Illinois legislature passes sports betting bill

The Illinois legislature on Sunday passed a broad funding bill that will authorize sports betting online and at the state's casinos, racetracks and even venues such as Wrigley Field and Soldier Field.

The Senate voted in favor of SB 690, 46-10, concurring with the House's approval Saturday. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has expressed support for the legislation and is expected to sign the bill later this month.

The legislation stipulates sports facilities with seating capacity greater than 17,000 may apply for a master sports wagering license, allowing them to offer sports betting at or within a five-block radius of the venue. The initial fee for a sports wagering license is $10 million and is valid for four years.

The Illinois legislation prohibits betting on games involving Illinois schools.

"Today is the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work, determination and teamwork behind a vision for entertainment and economic opportunity in Illinois," state Rep. Mike Zalewski, one of the bill's proponents, said in a statement.

Upon Pritzker's signature, Illinois will join more than a dozen states that have authorized sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court last May struck a federal statute that had restricted state-sponsored sports betting to primarily Nevada.

"Thanks to Governor Pritzker's leadership, and the weekend overtime hours put in by the General Assembly, we are excited by the legalization of sports betting," Richard Schwartz, President of Rush Street Interactive, which runs Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois, said in a statement.

The NBA and Major League Baseball lobbied in Illinois for a fee paid by bookmakers to sports leagues based on the amount wagered on their respective events, but such a fee was not included in the final bill.

The leagues, however, did receive some rights over data. Illinois sports betting operators will be required to purchase official data from sports leagues to grade wagers that are placed after the start of a game and are not based solely by the final score or outcome of the event.

In a controversial stipulation, the bill will require online sports betting companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings to partner and operate under the brand of existing casinos for the first 18 months.

"While it is good to see sports betting bills passed, excluding DraftKings and FanDuel is like passing a ride sharing bill that excludes Uber and Lyft," DraftKings CEO Jason Robins wrote on Twitter. "Very disappointing that Illinois customers will not have the best options available to them for 18 months."

In addition to sports betting, the legislation will allow new casinos in Chicago and other locations in the state.
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