Illinois Bill Would Amend Sports Wagering Act To Benefit Women’s Pro Teams

A bill was filed last week in Illinois that would change the existing sports betting law.

House Bill 5812 would authorize a “professional women’s sports team that has been in existence at least 10 years or its designee to apply to the Illinois Gaming Board to be issued a master sports wagering license,” according to a summary of the proposal.

The bill would set the initial license fee at 5% of the professional women’s sports team’s or its designee’s “adjusted gross receipts from the preceding calendar year.” An initial license fee would be capped at $10 million and would be valid for four years.

A renewal fee would cost $1 million.

Currently, up to 10 casinos in Illinois, three racetracks, and seven professional sports venues could seek sports betting licenses. Professional teams whose sports venues have a capacity of at least 17,000 can pay a $10 million licensing fee to have on-site sports wagering.

Sports wagering has not yet commenced at any sports venue. The first bets in the state were placed back in March. There are more than 10 sports venues with at least 17,000 seats in the state.

HB 5812 does not have a seat requirement for a women’s pro sports venue.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Lamont Robinson Jr., a Democrat whose district is in Chicago.

Where can the sports betting be conducted?

A professional women’s sports team or its designee issued a master sports wagering license would be allowed to offer sports betting at the venue in which the professional women’s sports team plays or within five blocks of that venue.

The team or its designee could also offer the betting over the internet.

The bill states: “The sports wagering offered over the internet or through a mobile application shall only be offered under either the same brand as the professional women’s sports team or its designee is operating under or a brand owned by a direct or indirect holding company that owns at least an 80% interest in that professional women’s sports team or its designee on the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 101st General Assembly.”

The number of master licenses allowed in Illinois is currently 23, which includes three mobile-only shops.

Which women’s sports venues could be in the mix?

Under the sports betting law passed in 2019, venues including Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, SeatGeek Stadium, Guaranteed Rate Field, Allstate Arena, and the United Center could be sports wagering sites.

The WNBA’s Chicago Sky play at Wintrust Arena, which has a capacity of more than 10,000. Under current law, it would not be eligible for sports betting because of its number of seats.

Another possible venue would be the Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, home to the Chicago Bandits, a women’s pro softball team. It has 2,000 seats.

The Chicago Red Stars, a women’s pro soccer team in the NWSL, play at SeatGeek Stadium, which is already eligible.

The Red Stars, Bandits, and Sky all were founded over 10 years ago.