Despite massive profits from the industry, significant gambling problems within the state have pushed lawmakers to modify the laws surrounding sports betting.
This January, the state saw record-high bets with $1.07 billion wagered in legal sports betting, per the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB). January was also the fourth consecutive month Illinois exceeded the one billion dollar mark, an increase of over $20 million from a year ago.
Changes in Illinois betting laws
There are several changes to the laws regulating legal sports betting in Illinois, one of the largest markets in the U.S. for sports betting operators.
Senate Bill 323
Senate Bill 323 changes the renewal fee amount for license holders. The legislation passed with only one dissenting vote, 55-1.
Initially, applicants had to pay a $150,000 application fee to the IGB, based on the Sports Wagering Act (SWA) signed by Gov. JB Pritzker in 2019.
The license would last four years before license holders had to submit another $150,000 annually to maintain it. Now, the amount has changed to $50,000.
This bill will go effective immediately as soon as the governor signs it.
Senate Bill 1462
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1462 regulates new eligibility standards for those seeking an occupational license. IGB must consider several points regarding applicants’ criminal records, including time since conviction, number of convictions, and the severity of charges.
It passed through a 44-12 vote, mostly along party lines. Senate Minority Leader John Curran was one of the six Republicans supporting the bill.
Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) proposed Senate Bill 1462 to open doors to “good jobs.” However, some rose to the opposition, such as Senator Neil Anderson (R-Andalusia). Anderson mentioned that the IGB requested casinos would not be liable should any of these individuals break any laws.
Other opposing votes came from local Republican Sens. Steve McClure of Springfield and Sally Turner of Beason.
Senate Bill 1508
Last but not least, Senate Bill 1508 from Senate President Pro Tempore Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) aims to regulate licensed online sports wagering operators to display a pop-up advisory at least once an hour.
The bill received unanimous support from Illinois senators, sending the bill over to the House.
Illinois’ responsible gambling efforts
In 2022, a study released by the Illinois Department of Human Services stated around 380,000 adult Illinoisans are struggling with a gambling problem, with a staggering 761,000 more at risk of developing one.
“The disease might be caused by a lack of control and manageability,” said Mercedes Kent, a clinical specialist at Gateway Foundation, a nonprofit rehab and treatment provider. “It may start as recreational and then develop into something more.”
Cunningham believed policymakers had a “responsibility” upon legalizing sports betting to protect those struggling with gambling addiction problems, especially since the funds for sports betting go to the state.
“Illinois has been a leader in the regulation of sports betting, and we need to ensure that we are also addressing the potential harms associated with gambling addiction,” said Cunningham.
Illinois sports betting operators must display a message alert reminding betters how much they have wagered since logging on. Moreover, sportsbook apps would have to provide access to resources such as websites and telephone numbers for gambling issues.
With this intervention, Cunningham hopes to further enforce responsible gambling behaviors within the state.