New legislation could expand sports betting to college sports in Illinois

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) – A new push is underway in the Illinois legislature to expand sports betting in Illinois to include college sports.

HB 0849 is the same bill filed last month calling for the elimination of a provision prevents sports betting involving an Illinois collegiate team. The legislation is being called a slam dunk by those who take part in sports betting in Central Illinois.

"I just think it doesn’t make any sense to be able to bet on any other sporting event except for the ones I am actually interested in,” Rusty Johnson said. "I would have made a ton of money the other night against Michigan."

Statewide, sports betting is big business. Since starting in Illinois in 2019, the sports betting handle reached $1,873,341,000. That is equal to more than $125 million in statewide revenue, of which $20 million will go the state.

“If people were allowed to vote on their favorite team, there would be a lot of expansion,” another supporter of the change, Drake Baker, said.

State Representative Mike Zalewski filed the bill on Wednesday. He agrees expansion could bring in more money.

"Illinois betters would want to bet on Illinois,” Rep. Zalewski said. “Northwestern football, Illinois football in the fall would be another chance for robust growth."

The bill is still in the first quarter but has been assigned to a committee. That is further than the bill Rep. Zalewski’s filed last month. The Chicago are democrat filed HB 5876 in the final days of the last session, but it did not make it out of the rules committee.

Right now, the House bill does not have a Senate companion. Rep. Zalewski believes it will pass this year and if signed by the Governor, it would take effect immediately.

Lawmakers say they are working with schools like the University of Illinois as they move forward with the bill.


March 4, 2021 at 10:42PM

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