March Madness is one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year and the hype around the tournament series has only grown with the rapid growth of sports betting in the United States. One of the states where the residents are about to get in on sports betting is Illinois and they can expect that to happen in time for the March Madness college basketball tournament. This has since been confirmed by Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office.
“The governor is pleased that Illinois sportsbooks will open for business by March Madness, generating revenue to rebuild universities, hospitals, and other facilities across the state,” a spokesperson from the governor’s office revealed.
After a long legislative battle to have sports betting legalized in the state, sports betting proponents eventually got what they want when the state finally passed a sports betting law last June. This was followed by the issuance of a total of three sports betting licenses by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) in January. They are Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, the Argosy Casino in Alton, and Grand Victoria Casino. These licensed operators will now be able to offer retail and online sports betting services to the Illinois residents.
Initially, the governor and the sports betting operators hoped to be up and running for this year’s Super Bowl. However, things did not go according to plan and the huge event turned out to be a missed opportunity. They will not be letting the March Madness tournament series pass by as easily.
According to the state’s gambling laws, sports betting operators will not be allowed to offer odds or betting lines on minor league teams or even high school events. In addition to that, bets will also not be allowed for any game that involves an Illinois college. These terms are meant to protect the integrity of the games.
The Massive Revenue Projections
Perhaps the main reasons why Illinois passed sports betting was because of the revenue that the activity would inject into its economy. The gross sports betting revenue from the licensed operators will be taxed at 25 percent. Keeping that in mind, financial experts have estimated that the annual handle from the activity could be as high as $5.3 billion by 2023. Very few states have been able to achieve that despite being in the industry for quite some time.
Now, the upcoming March Madness will act as a test-launch of sorts for the state’s budding sports betting industry. There is a lot of optimism that everything will turn out great especially considering all the preparations that have been done leading up to the tournament.