Published: April 27, 2023

Illinois Legislative Committee Discusses Expanding Betting On In-State Schools

The Illinois General Assembly’s House Gaming Committee held a subject matter hearing Wednesday regarding potentially expanding sports wagering on games involving in-state schools to include online platforms.

HB 4041, filed by Rep. Jonathan Carroll last Thursday and given its first reading Tuesday before being assigned to the Rules Committee, would allow for mobile sportsbooks to offer pre-game betting — called Tier 1 wagering in Illinois — on the state’s 13 schools that play Division I basketball and seven that compete at the FBS or FCS levels. HB 3136, a bill passed during the 2021 veto session in the previous General Assembly, specified that pre-game wagering could only be done at retail sportsbooks in the state. That provision sunsets on July 1, prompting Carroll’s filing.

Carroll’s bill does not contain any language regarding individual prop bets on players participating in games involving in-state schools. While nearly half the 37 states that have sports wagering prohibit or limit wagering on games involving in-state colleges, there is more strident opposition at the university and NCAA levels regarding individual prop bets, given the social media fury from losing bettors that’s occasionally directed toward athletes.

College sports wagering is a notable draw in Illinois, having generated close to $1.4 billion handle in 2022, with $286 million of that originating from the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments. Another $386.3 million has been wagered in the first two months of this year.

More than 94% of Illinois’ college sports handle came through mobile platforms last year, and 96% has originated via mobile or online platforms thus far in 2023. Those figures do not include parlay wagers that may include college events as part of the overall bet.

Illinois AD Whitman again leads the opposition

In his opening remarks, Carroll noted that expanding pre-game wagering to mobile platforms has the potential to increase revenue from college wagers by 20%.

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