llinois gambling regulators released applications Thursday for casinos, racetracks and large stadiums that want to open sportsbooks.
Illinois Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter still declined to estimate when the industry might go live.
The sports wagering applications and a series of rules governing them were released nearly six months after sports betting was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker as part of a massive gambling expansion passed in the spring.
Fruchter said his agency will release a second phase of rules on operation procedures early next year and will then start issuing temporary permits “in a timely manner,” Chicago Sun Times reports. The next Gaming Board meeting is slated for January 30.
The state’s 10 existing casinos, three racetracks and up to seven 17,000-plus-capacity sports venues are eligible to apply for the $10 million sports wagering licenses. Under the new gambling law, online-only sports betting websites like DraftKings and FanDuel are cut out of the initial action. Such companies have to wait 18 months before they can apply for one of three online-only sports betting licenses at a $20 million a pop.
Land-based sportsbooks can set up their own mobile sports betting applications in the meantime, though. Most casinos, racetracks and Chicago’s major professional sports teams have indicated they’ll apply for the first batch of sports-betting licenses.
State Rep. Mike Zalewski, the Riverside Democrat who shepherded the sports wagering legislation, called it “a good day for sports fans in Illinois.” “Hopefully potential licensees can have their applications reviewed carefully but expeditiously so that bettors can participate in the market in a safe and legal way in the near future,” said Zalewski, who initially estimated a launch in time for the Super Bowl in February.
“There’s not a timeline because we don’t want to set goals or deadlines that are arbitrary. The goal here is to get a process and a sports wagering system that is correct,” Fruchter said. In the meantime, gamblers have wagered more than $270 million in neighboring Indiana in three months since the industry went live there.
“While we respect our Hoosier neighbors, Illinois is a different state and we have to do what’s in the best interests of Illinois,” said Fruchter.
A number of potential venues are ready and waiting for the go-ahead from the state. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is the busiest casino in the state, and they have already done renovations putting a sports bar where a nightclub used to be. It includes a 48-foot video wall – but no sports gambling yet. “We knew the rules were coming, just didn’t know when,” said Corey Wise, general manager of Rivers Casino, abc7 reports.. “So we wanted to be primed and ready once the rules are released.”
A spokesperson for the gaming board said they are in the process of drafting the operational rules right now.