Is Sports Betting Legal in Illinois?” There is no simple answer to that question, but there are some definite answers surrounding the sports betting landscape in Illinois. The first and foremost is, of course, is it legal? Yes. In 2019, sports betting laws were signed into law and began to be enforced in-person in all Illinois counties and on online and in-house gaming sites throughout the state.
Illinois has had a bit of a rocky road when it comes to establishing themselves as an official sport gambling state. The first major attempt was in 1977, which resulted in the passage of House Bill 710. This bill banned most sports wagers from being performed by bettors in the House of Representatives or the Senate, or by any officer of the House or Senate who was involved in the sports wagers. This included members of the Illinois State Supreme Court, any Illinois county judge, and any officer of the Cook County Board of judges. This bill, like many before it, was ultimately struck down in Springfield, IL with a strong challenge from the American Sports Club, which has now become known simply as the “Mills.” This issue was later brought up again and ultimately struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Illinois Department of Revenue also went after Illinois sports books during the time of the House of Representatives. Their attempt was to charge reasonable fees to members of the House of Representatives and prevent any outside influences from taking place on House betting lines. This meant that only members of the House could place bets on games in the House of Representatives and that any bets coming in from sportsbooks outside of the House were considered null and void. This also included any outside funds collected from such sportsbooks.
The second problem in Illinois came in the form of state taxation. Two popular online sportsbooks in Illinois, Bookie Gambler and Full Tilt, had been routinely charged sales tax by the Illinois Department of Revenue on every wager they took in at the Illinois State capitol. The House proposed an amendment to the tax code that would exempt all wagers from being assessed income tax. This was later changed to become a part of the recently passed sports betting law, which again changed the landscape of Illinois gaming.
In recent months, several members of the Illinois House have proposed bills to amend the sportsbook laws in the state of Illinois. One of these is from Illinois Rep. Patruskin, who represents the 8th District. Patruskin’s bill has already been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, where it will wait for a vote. Another bill he has co-sponsored with Rep. George Tillis, also from Illinois, would allow anyone who requests a refund to claim that amount from the Illinois casinos, regardless of whether they are residents or non-residents of Illinois.
Another bill that is making its way through the Illinois House would allow people to open accounts for Illinois sports betting apps, even if they do not reside in the state. The reason for this is that the legislature wants to make certain that all residents of Illinois have the opportunity to take advantage of this type of gambling. If a person does not have an account, then they would not be able to participate in the games or bets that are placed through the Illinois sports betting apps. In effect, the more people who use this service, the more revenue the state will see.
Currently there is an executive order in place in Illinois that would require any of the licensed establishments in the state to implement an in-person registration requirement for all of its customers. Regrettably, not every establishment in Illinois has chosen to follow this order. In fact, some of the licensed establishments have chosen to disregard the executive order entirely. In their defense, they have claimed that it is only a safety precaution and that they are not taking any chances at all. This argument is flawed on several counts, though.
First, the Illinois government is attempting to protect consumers by requiring any in-person registration for betting at a sportsbook. This is a step in the right direction, though, as it makes it harder for a person to wager illegally (as is often the case with in-house casinos). Secondly, the executive order by Governor Bruce Rauner allows for the installation of faulty software in licensed establishments if the owner chooses not to install the required software. If the owner of an Illinois sportsbook ignores this order, he or she can be forced to pay restitution to anyone who has suffered damages as a result of the faulty software.