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Illinois Legislature Considers Whether to Permit In-State Betting on College and University Teams

Lawmakers in Illinois are considering the implementation of some changes to the state’s gambling laws, including the roll-out of a measure that would lift the ban on betting on in-state colleges and universities sports teams.

Yesterday, the House Executive Committee discussed the measures in question, including one that would make legal and regulate certain online gambling programs and would suspend the so-called sweepstakes machines that pretty much resemble the same as regular video gambling terminals but are not regulated by the authorities in the same way.

The lawmaker that was among the leading supporters of the gambling expansion bill in 2019, Representative Mike Zalewski, explained that the suspension on betting on local collegiate sports teams was rolled out as the universities wanted so.

However, after the Supreme Court decided to lift the ban on sports betting in 2018, the new form of gambling has risen in popularity in the country, with more and more US states making it legal. Considering the fact that its neighboring states offer the service, Illinois could soon turn out to be in a disadvantaged position, with Representative Zalewski saying that lacking the service would make it less of a robust marketplace.

As explained by Zalewski, his proposed amendment to House Bill 849 would allow local universities to file a petition to the Illinois Gaming Board to suspend betting on in-state college or university sports for up to six months in case the college or university affected has a reasonable belief there had been an influence on a single player or the entire team, had suffered a physical or mental injury, or a wager had affected them in any other way.

Other Measures Include Permitting Online Sports Betting and Banning Sweepstake Machines

Josh Whitman, the Athletic Director of the University of Illinois, addressed the House Executive Committee, too, saying he was against the proposed bill.

According to Mr. Whitman, crossing the border to gamble in other states is not so easy, especially for people who live in the central part of Illinois. He further noted that the fact that college and university athletes usually live among people who could be betting on them was a major concern. Furthermore, he highlighted that athletes use their phones extremely often and sometimes receive hate comments on social media, which in some cases is directly associated with gambling losses.

University of Illinois’ Athletic Director further shared that he appreciated the proposed amendment but he found it insufficient in solving these issues.

The proposed implementation of sports betting apps has been a controversial topic in the state. Still, most parties in the legalization process agreed that the authorities should take some action in order to stop illegal and unregulated sports betting websites and applications, which also remain untaxed, to be accessible to Illinois residents.

On the other hand, the proposed measure faced the opposition of video gaming machines’ operators. According to the executive director of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, the implementation of online gambling in the state would fend off local residents from local restaurants offering video gaming terminals or slot machine parlors. He further noted that the law should make it clear that so-called sweepstakes are not permitted in Illinois.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.