Illinois Takes Small Steps On Sports Betting, Sports Lottery

The Illinois Gaming Board took another small step forward Friday to bringing sports betting live by posting the Phase 2 rules released in January into the state’s Register, which is a compilation of rules for government agencies.

The addition of the rules to the registry opens the 45-day comment period in which the general public — and casinos and lobbyists — can offer their thoughts on the rules package. Ahead of the Phase 1 release in December, there was a robust public commentary period in the fall in which the IGB compiled 347 pages worth of letters that were entered into the rulemaking record.

Sports betting was made legal in Illinois last June as part of a massive gaming expansion bill signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The review of the Phase 2 rules by the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules has been slotted into Tuesday’s agenda in the state capital of Springfield.

Still only three applicants for sports betting licenses

As of 1:30 p.m. CST on Friday, there have been no new applicants for sports betting licenses according to the IGB’s official website. Midwest Gaming and Entertainment LLC, which runs Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, the Argosy Casino in Alton, and Elgin Riverboat Resort, which runs Grand Victoria Casino, all applied in January, and all three were granted temporary operating permits without being approved for wagering.

There are two applications on file for Management Services Provider — one belonging to Penn National, which is linked to the Argosy Casino, and Betfair, which submitted its application Jan. 31. In the case of Betfair, it would appear that application is tied to Fairmount Park Racetrack — which is expected to pursue one of the three racino licenses available as part of the expansion bill. The applicant is listed as “Betfair Interactive US LLC d/b/a FanDuel Sportsbook,” which makes it unclear what the branding would be at Fairmount Park.

There are three mobile/online licenses available for companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings, but they cannot begin to take bets until at least 18 months after the first casino license is issued. There also have been no Tier 2 Official League Data Provider applications received, which is mandated as part of the bill. It is uncertain if sports wagering will be available in Illinois by the start of the NCAA Tournament, which begins with the First Four on March 17.

Sports lottery also moving forward incrementally

A component of the gaming bill signed into law this summer and running on a parallel track since it is run by the Illinois Lottery is a potential sports lottery pilot program. The bill calls for a limited sportsbook parlay, similar to Delaware, at as many as 5,000 retail locations over the course of the four-year program. During the Illinois Lottery quarterly meeting Friday, Acting Director Harold Mays said there is no formal date for a public release as the organization “continues the process of gathering information for an impending bid associated with an operating license.”

“We have not put out an RFP (Request For Proposal),” Mays explained. “What we have done is put out a Request For Information (RFI), that is to solicit information from the industry, and other interested parties to provide their perspective. It would be a single entity, per legislation. It requires that we do a competitive bid and envision a single operator.”