While sports betting has quickly found its groove in Illinois — the state already ranks fourth in post-PASPA handle at more than $3.6 billion despite accepting its first wagers only 14 months ago — finding prospective operators to enter the state for the sports lottery program as part of the Sports Wagering Act signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker in June 2019 has proven more challenging.
The bill provided an opportunity for the Illinois Lottery to conduct a pilot program that offered “parlay wagers and fixed odds parlay wagers.” It allows for 2,500 terminals in retail locations across the state in its first year of existence and an additional 2,500 terminals in year two. The biggest stumbling blocks have been the $20 million licensing fee along with the duration of the program, which was set at four years and is currently slated to be repealed Jan. 1, 2024.
State Rep. Jonathan Carroll filed HB 4087 on Thursday, offering amendments that would drastically change how it would be run, including lowering the licensing fee, expanding the program online, removing the limit on the number of terminals, and pushing out the repeal date by five years.
The second bill filed to amend the sports lottery
Carroll’s bill goes further in altering Section 25-70 of the Sports Wagering Act than SB 2276, which was filed by Sen. Steve Stadelman in April. The lone commonality between the bills is the lowering of the license fee to $10 million, which would make it an equal cost to a standard sports wagering license in Illinois.
Carroll’s biggest change is removing the process in which the Illinois Lottery would have chosen a winning bid from an “open and competitive bidding process” among three final applicants. Carroll’s amendment calls the sports wagering lottery games “part of the private management agreement and competitive bidding process” that currently exists in Section 9.1 of the Illinois Lottery Law.
Another amendment expands the scope of the sports lottery terminal as currently described in SB 0690 to include “sports wagering conducted over the Internet or through mobile applications or other digital platforms.” While not specified in Carroll’s bill, it appears this amendment would make a sports lottery game available through the Illinois Lottery app that bettors could download to their smartphones.
Carroll’s bill also removes the limit on the amount of sports lottery terminals allowed in the bill, which permitted a maximum of 2,500 for the first year of the program and an additional 2,500 terminals in year two.
In contrast to Stadelman’s bill that would push out the repeal date of the sports lottery pilot program by one year to Jan. 1, 2025, Carroll’s repeal date is Jan. 1, 2029.