Sports Betting In Illinois Might Soon Become Legal But College Sports Might Be Excluded


Illinois legislators have tabled a proposal to legalize sports betting and the current atmosphere suggests that they are likely to succeed. If so, many people who love to bet on sports will benefit from the legalization but there is a chance that college sports betting will be excluded.

Sports betting is highly lucrative not only for betting firms or the winners who place wagers on sports but also for governments through tax. Making betting legal in Illinois means there will be regulatory measures put in place to make it safe for the betting community.

The state estimates that a legal sports betting industry would generate as much as $136 million USD in annual tax revenue. D-Riverside Rep. Mike Zalewski who is the pointman on the proposed sports gambling bill stated that sports football gambling would add a significant extra amount if it were allowed.

“If college sports betting is banned altogether, we’d lose a pretty sizable revenue stream,” stated Zalewski.

College sports officials are opposed to the idea of including college sports under the legal sports betting category. They sent a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker stating that they want Illinois legislators to strike down college sports from the sports betting bill. The officials noted in the letter that betting on college sports is harmful to college athletes because it will pave way for match-fixing by individuals who want to change the outcome of games to their advantage. College athletes are easily accessible and can be easily manipulated.

The college sports officials argue that Illinois should follow in the steps of some of the states that have legalized sports betting but excluded college betting. Some industry expert claim that the approach is not the best because excluding college sports means forgoing more revenue. They also believe that the state should implement measures aimed at upholding the integrity of college sports. Jake Williams believes that people will still continue to bet on college sports through illegal betting firms that run in their operations in other states. Williams works for a firm that monitors betting data globally.

Tax and loyalties implication

Meanwhile, Zalewski submitted two amendments to the bill prior to a House committee hearing on sports betting. The amendments propose a 25% tax rate and royalties to be paid out to professional leagues. The proposed bill also suggests that sportsbooks should pay a massive $20 million licensing fee.

Illinois Casino Gaming Association’s executive director Tom Swoik commented that the tax rate is too high. Some neighboring states charge betting companies a tax rate of less than 10% as well as significantly lower licensing fees. The association has also opposed the idea of paying royalties to leagues. Some of the states that have so far legalized sports betting include Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.

Swoik also noted that the betting firms or sportsbooks will not make significant profits if they are subjected to such high taxes and license costs. The proposal for royalties is a rebrand from what professional sports leagues called an integrity fee.

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