Illinois To Allow Limited In-State College Sports Betting

One of the glaring flaws in Illinois sports betting law has been rectified. Following the passage of a new law, bettors will soon be able to wager on in-state college teams in Illinois, such as the Fighting Illini, Northwestern, and Loyola University in Chicago.

On Dec. 17, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 3136 into law, which legalizes in-state collegiate betting in a limited capacity. The bill also allows online registration with sportsbooks in the state. The bill also modifies other areas of the state’s sports betting laws.

College Sports Betting In Illinois

Betting on in-state college teams will become legal within the next month, but it will not be a free-for-all like it is in most other states.

HB 3136 will only allow pre-game bets that are made in person at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. No in-game live wagering will be available, nor will prop bets.

It’s a small step, but perhaps it starts a pathway toward even more expanded college sports betting in Illinois.

Illinois Bettors Will Be Able to Register Online

Illinois law currently allows for in-person registration only, a stipulation that has been in place since sports betting was legalized more than three years ago. Bettors have been able to register online since early 2020, under emergency measures enacted by the governor in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, but that exemption is set to expire soon. Industry observers have criticized the inability to register online, which limits sports betting revenue and makes it inconvenient for sportsbook customers. HB 3136 sets March 5 as a start date for remote registration.

Sports Betting In Chicago

The bill also allows Chicago’s Wintrust Arena, the home of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and the DePaul University basketball teams, to apply for a sports facility sports wagering license. Previously, Wintrust failed to meet the capacity requirement from the Sports Wagering Act.

Wintrust Arena will be the fifth sports facility in Chicago allowed to have sports wagering on the property. That was made possible this month when the Chicago City Council lifted the ban on sports wagering inside the city limits. It is expected that Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, Guaranteed Rate Field, and the United Center will also have sports betting available.

Illinois Sports Betting Revenue

In October of 2021, the most recent month from which data is available, Illinois reported $840 million in total handle for sports betting. Of that total, $217 million was on college sports. So far in 2021, the state has taken in $3.5 billion in sports bets combined via online bets and retail sportsbook wagering, with more than $86 million in tax revenue generated for Illinois.

With the NFL regular season and college football bowl season reaching their conclusions over the next few weeks, it’s anticipated that betting will continue to see growth in Illinois. In January, when it’s expected that sportsbooks will accept action on in-state colleges, it’s possible that many more sports bettors will enter the market. Illinois is one of the five top sports betting markets in the country. 

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes has written three books about sports. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He enjoys writing, running, and lemon bars. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and usually has an orange cream soda nearby.