College betting ban reinstated

Illinois Gaming Board renews licenses for seven retail sportsbooks

Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter
Reading time 1:28 min

The Illinois Gaming Board has renewed seven retail sports betting licenses, marking the first such renewals since operators began taking wagers in March 2020.

Administrator Marcus Fruchter, wielding expanded powers granted post-COVID-19 pandemic and renewed annually, extended the licenses for four years through June 2028. The renewals include Argosy Casino Alton, DraftKings at Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Hollywood Casino Aurora, Hollywood Casino Joliet, Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, and Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria.

Retail sports betting in Illinois has generated a total handle of $1.12 billion, including $105 million in the first quarter of 2024. Over the 46 months of accepting wagers, operators have achieved a collective 8.9% hold amassing $99.5 million in adjusted gross sports betting revenue.

The state now has 15 retail sports betting locations, with DraftKings at Wrigley Field being the latest to open in March. The array of venues includes 11 casino-based retail sportsbooks and three off-track betting locations licensed to Hawthorne Race Course, following the gaming expansion bill signed into law by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker in June 2019.

During the renewal announcement, Fruchter highlighted a significant regulatory change: the Illinois General Assembly's failure to extend an amendment allowing Tier 1 wagers on games involving Illinois-based schools. Consequently, from July 1, pre-game moneyline, point spread, and total wagers on these games will be prohibited. The earliest possibility for reinstating these bets would be during the fall veto session.

The amendment permitting such wagers had been in effect for over two years, originating from a bill by Rep. Bob Rita attached to Senate Bill 0089 and initially passed during the 2021 veto session via HB 3136. Despite attempts to extend these permissions, including a bill introduced by former Rep. Jonathan Carroll in April 2023, no further action was taken following his resignation in January.

Tier 1 retail wagering on college sports was particularly robust, with $25 million wagered in the first quarter of 2024, a 20.4% increase from the previous year. This surge was bolstered by Illinois's advancement to the NCAA Tournament regional final. The total number of Tier 1 retail wagers on college sports from January to March 2024 rose by 15.7% compared to the same period in 2023, totaling 155,348 bets.

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