Five Potential Problems With The Latest Illinois Sports Betting Regulations

Posted on January 27, 2020 - Last Updated on February 4, 2020

As Illinois continues to move toward rolling out its legal sportsbooks, the state released a new set of regulations for regulated sports betting. While some of the rules are standard to the industry, there are others that raise eyebrows.

While Indiana is considered to be on the cutting edge of sports betting, Illinois’ regulations have some quirks that have many in the industry concerned about how Illinois sportsbooks will operate and thrive.

Five questionable elements of the new IL sports betting regulations

These tenets of the new regulations for legal sports betting in Illinois cover different facets of the industry. They range from bet exclusion requests to waiting periods.

While Illinois has the population advantage over Indiana, these regulations could limit the scope of sports betting in the state. For Indiana books, this is not a bad thing, but the same cannot be said for Illinois bettors.

Here is a look at some of the stranger elements of Illinois sports betting.

Illinois’ continued ban on wagers involving in-state college teams

No Illinois sportsbook will be allowed to post lines on any games involving college athletes or teams that call Illinois home. That means no action on Big Ten teams Northwestern or Illinois. That also includes Bradley and several other smaller schools in the state.

This is one of the biggest advantages that Illinois gives Indiana. The Hoosier State has no such rules. Illinoisans will be free to cross the state line and place bets on any college athletes or teams.

The dreaded in-person registration requirement for online books lives

Like Iowa, Illinois requires those wanting to bet using online sportsbooks to complete their registration processes in person. As it has in Iowa, this could hamper the growth of sports betting tremendously.

Illinois’ rule on this very unique, however. The requirement will exist until the first “standalone” (not a retail book with an online component) online sportsbook is approved. That comes 420 days later, but more on that in a minute.

Those operators can’t get approval until 18 months after the launch of the retail books, however.  That means the actual amount of time that Illinois residents and visitors face this hurdle could be a lot longer than 18 months. In fact, it will most likely be two or three years.

In the meantime, Illinoisans are free to cross the border and conduct their entire online wagering experience without having to visit a retail operator. That’s another win for Indiana.

Local casinos get 420-day head start

The Illinois Gaming Bureau will approve existing in-state gambling operators for sports betting licenses. These approved licensees will be able to offer retail wagering and in-person registration for online wagering. Once these are up and running, the clock starts ticking and does not stop for 420 days.

Only after 420 days pass will Illinois award three licenses that allow for online-only operations.

Illinois sports betting bids will remain confidential

The bidding process for the first three licenses will be completely confidential. Applicants have four months to submit an application along with a blind bid for one of the licenses.

Unlike other states, where the applications and the process of appraising them is out in the public, this process will have no such transparency. Even a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request will not unseal the documents before the application period is over.

Illinois needs transparency on this issue. With no public eye on the application process, it is not clear what criteria went into the evaluation process.

That’s especially true given the fact that only three operators will be part of the initial launch. The final item on the list opens the door for operators to game the system against each other in another way.

Operators can petition the IGB to ban wagers on certain events

In Illinois, sports leagues and teams can ask the bureau to disallow betting on certain contests or elements of contests. An example of this might be MLB asking the IGB to ban betting on spring training games. This is common across many states with regulated sports betting.

Illinois extends that privilege to sportsbook operators as well. That could be used in scrupulous ways.

For example, suppose a certain sportsbook is doing very well taking bets on Chicago Sky games. Another operator who is not doing so well in that regard may ask the IGB to ban wagering on WNBA games because of that.

The IGB wouldn’t have to honor the request. However, the fact that the option to utilize the mechanism in this way exists is problematic.

These new Illinois regulations raise some questions for those in the state and makes the regulatory landscape in Indiana appear superior. While there is still time to adjust them, this status quo could be a win for sportsbooks in the Hoosier State.

Derek Helling Avatar
Written by
Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

View all posts by Derek Helling