By Illinois Radio Network
SPRINGFIELD – The state’s sports wagering program won’t be ready for the Super Bowl, but it might be ready for March Madness.
Some people may already be placing sports bets online after last Spring’s Supreme Court ruling allowing states to offer sports wagering, but Illinois’ legal program not yet up and running. Those hoping to place bets from the couch may have to wait even longer.
As part of the state’s $45 billion of capital spending for projects around Illinois, lawmakers approved sports betting. That money will go toward vertical construction projects such as schools. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation in late June alongside other measures including doubling the state’s gas tax from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents a gallon.
State Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, said Monday that he had hoped to roll out sports betting before the Super Bowl.
“I’m starting to get a little more cautious in saying that if we could have someone placing a bet on March Madness, that would be great,” Zalewski said.
But that would only be for sports betting at brick-and-mortar gambling operations.
“In terms of online, we put in an 18 month delay period for app-based sports betting from your couch,” Zalewski said.
Zalewski said people should wait for Illinois’ program to start to legally place bets.
The cost per bet for Illinois’ program has yet to be determined.
“I’ve seen Indiana charge a minimum of $5 per bet,” Zalewski said. “I think that’s probably what you’ll see in Illinois. I think we’re going to leave it to the Gaming Board to set the minimum betting rules.”
Anita Bedell leads the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, which opposes gambling. She said online sports betting will be too easy for minors to bypass safeguards.
“And they can gamble all night at home and on their cell phones and they can’t get away from their cell phones,” Bedell said. “Even if they move, it will still be there.”
The revenue generated by sports betting will go to vertical construction projects throughout the state.
Zalewski said he hopes the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules to pass the final rules at a hearing Dec. 17. While there’s an emergency rule on the issue of video gaming, there is not one listed on the agenda for sports wagering.
Illinois Radio Network can be reached at news@WJBC.com.