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Legalizing sports betting gets airing in Illinois

CHICAGO – The Senate Gaming Committee is discussing the possibility of legalizing sports betting in Illinois.

There is currently a federal ban on sports betting, but the Supreme Court is considering a decision to overturn it. A hearing earlier this month was intended to discuss the regulatory framework that would need to be put in place to legalize sports betting at the state level.

“We know people are already participating in sports betting illegally,” said the committee chairman, state Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford. “If the federal ban is overturned, this is an opportunity for us to create a regulated, legal market in Illinois that brings in revenue and keeps us competitive with our neighboring states.”

National and international experts delivered testimony at the April 3 hearing on how to best implement a sports betting system in Illinois.

Chris Grove of Unikrn, a sports betting company in Las Vegas, testified that legal sports betting in both land-based casinos and on mobile devices would generate $681 million in revenue yearly. Grove urged the committee to consider legislation legalizing sports betting, saying Illinois risks losing tourism andbusiness to neighboring states if it does not.

Will Green, senior director of research at the American Gaming Association, said the state should avoid implementing burdensome costs when legalizing sports betting so that the legal industry can compete with the black market.

“People are used to shopping around for the highest payout,” Green said. “We cannot pretend as if the illegal market does not exist.”

There are currently three pieces of legislation proposed that concern legalizing sports betting in Illinois:

• Senate Bill 2478, sponsored by Stadelman, creates the Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act, which authorizes a state agency to oversee sports betting in Illinois.
• Senate Bill 3432, sponsored by Sen. Napoleon Harris, III, authorizes sports betting if the federal ban is overturned and puts in place licensing fees for sports wagering platforms.
• Senate Bill 3125, sponsored by Sen. William Brady, requires the Illinois Racing Board to regulate sports betting at racetracks and off-track betting locations.


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