Illinois House passes bill allowing in-state college betting at retail sportsbooks

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The Illinois House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday that would enable wagering on in-state college sports teams.

The legislation would also allow for fraternal organizations to apply for gambling machine licenses and would lower capacity for facilities eligible to host a sportsbook to 10,000.

House members voted 96-11 in favor of the bill less than one day after Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) sponsored House Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 521.

The state Senate is expected to vote on the bill later Tuesday. It would need to pass both chambers before it could be signed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The legislation would allow Illinois bettors to wager on in-state college teams at retail sportsbooks but not online. In-state college wagering would exist on a two-year trial basis effective immediately.

Bets involving in-state college teams would be labeled as “Tier 1” wagers, “determined solely by the final score or final outcome” and placed before the start of the game. This would prevent any prop wagers such as first half spread or second half over/under.

Illinois is home to several major college athletic programs including the University of Illinois Fighting Illini and the Northwestern University Wildcats, both of the Big Ten Conference.

This March Illinois sportsbooks missed out on an in-state college betting bonanza when Illinois faced the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Wintrust Arena, home of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and the DePaul Blue Demons, could soon become a location where bettors can make in-state college wagers.

Wintrust, with a capacity of 10,387 people, would be eligible to host a sportsbook under the new law.

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