The Illinois Senate decided against voting on an amendment this week that would have legalized in-state college sports betting.
The amendment to Senate Bill 521 would have stricken and/or amended language from the Sports Wagering Act that currently bars gamblers in Illinois from placing bets on college or university athletic teams located within the state and events hosted there.
Earlier this year, the Illinois House of Representatives approved the amendment with bi-partisan support. The legislation would create a two-year trial period allowing for in-state college betting. Proponents of the amendment cite the revenue increase and tax benefits to the state, while opponents are wary of corruption or pressure on collegiate athletes if in-state college sports betting is allowed.
Illinois legalized sports betting in June of 2019, but in an effort to maintain a sense of credibility for collegiate athletics, the legislature prohibited gambling on college or university teams located within the state. The ban has been controversial, especially during March Madness when interested peeks for local teams involved in the basketball tournament. College football betting is also a popular revenue stream for licensed betting operators, yet in Illinois it is still illegal to bet on games that involve teams from within the state or are held within the state.
Illinois And New Jersey: Different Paths To Legalized In-State College Sports Betting
Currently, Illinois is one of a handful states that bans in-state college sports betting, but that number will likely soon be reduced.
Earlier in June, the New Jersey Senate voted 36-1 to place a constitutional amendment before voters that would authorize the legislature to pass laws allowing in-state collegiate sports betting. That amendment is expected to pass this November, and sports fans could be betting on in-state college teams and in-state games in the upcoming football season.
Why has New Jersey sports betting had success in the halls of the state legislature while Illinois has suffered delays and setbacks? New Jersey was one of the first states to legalize sports betting after the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018. The state has had more time to reap the tax benefits from sports betting, and more time for groups to form in opposition of the ban on in-state college sports betting.
In contrast, while Illinois legalized sports betting two years ago, the pandemic slowed the rollout process and stymied momentum to expand it. In addition, Illinois has heard more vocal opposition to in-state college sports betting from groups concerned with problem gambling, specifically as it concerns college students. The law in Illinois prohibits anyone under 21 from legally gambling on sports in the state.
While New Jersey is addressing the issue with a constitutional amendment, in Illinois, the options could still move forward during a November veto session.