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Illinois Sports Betting Limitations Discussed In House Committee Meeting

Multiple Illinois sports betting issues were discussed during a House Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday.

The IL sports betting landscape could change this year, as wagering on in-state collegiate sports and eliminating in-person registration were among the proposals discussed during the meeting.

Committee members briefly discussed nearly a dozen gaming proposals during the meeting. Other topics including horse racing, iGaming and video gaming machines.

Illinois in-person registration still has key support

William Hill head of government relations Trevor Hayes proposed removing the Illinois in-person registration requirement. John Pappas, a spokesperson for gaming industry trade group iDEA Growth, also supported its removal.

Both said in-person registration is not essential for the success of the state’s sports betting industry. Hayes said 75% of bets at William Hill are made online, with some states surpassing 90%.

Jeff Kaplan, vice president of strategy and finance at Penn National Gaming, was a proponent of removing the registration requirement. Penn operates three Illinois casinos.

Representatives not receptive

Several representatives, including committee chair Rep. Robert Rita, defended the original intent of the 2019 legislation that required in-person registration.

The 2019 law included an 18-month in-person signup period.

Rita reiterated the requirement’s importance to support the brick-and-mortar locations, although no evidence exists of online registration hurting casinos.

In-person registrations limit the sports betting market

Illinois is a case study for the in-person registration limitations. Gov. JB Pritzker suspended in-person registration twice during the pandemic after shuttering casinos.

The suspension likely helped fuel the state’s explosive sports betting growth, as it surpassed Pennsylvania in February handle with $509.8 million. Pritzker allowed the in-person suspension to expire this month, saying it no longer is necessary.

Next door, Iowa is also a shining example of how in-person registration limits the market. Iowa’s January handle jumped to $149.5 million, a 42.7% increase of December’s $104.8 million after the state’s in-person registration requirement ended.

Bye-bye to in-state college sports betting ban in Illinois?

Rep. Michael Zalewski, an original backer of IL sports betting, is proposing to remove the ban on betting on in-state colleges.

Zalewski said with neighboring states and offshore books offering the bets, the well-intentioned ban does not accomplish its goal.

Pappas said it limits the market by up to 15%, echoing Zalewski’s sentiments about it not achieving the intended benefit to college players and betting integrity.

Illinois colleges turn out against the idea

University of Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman spoke in opposition to the proposal on behalf of the state’s 13 NCAA Division I athletic programs.

Whitman said student-athletes are more susceptible to undue influence from their peers. He also said the ban helps protect the mental health of the athletes by limiting negative online messages.

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