Illinois’ Horse Racetracks and Casino Could Host Sports Betting

Illinois Legislature Introduces a Sports Betting Bill

Riding the endorsement of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to expand sports betting throughout the state, racetracks, and casinos could be the beneficiaries of a new law being debated this legislative session.

There are several proposals at the moment, some of which put the measure under the control of the Illinois Gaming Board, who already oversees gambling at horse tracks and casinos.

Another less popular measure would put sports betting under the wing of the Illinois Lottery.

Either way, when the measure is agreed upon, legislators believe that sports betting could produce an enormous windfall.

Gov. Pritzker has stated that with initial licensing agreements could bring the state close to $200 million in revenue for the 2020 fiscal year.

This $200 million figure stands to be made if the state charges a whopping $10 million per license to casinos. The $10 million number would be one of the highest fees in the United States.

Regardless of the high licensing fee, racetrack operators are thrilled at the possibility of sports betting at their locations.

“Well sports betting is certainly a very exciting prospect for us,” Brian Zander, President of Fairmount Park said.

“The way we look at it is, there’s three tracks that are left in the state of Illinois that have taken a legal wager on the outcome of a sporting event.”

”So we think we’re well-positioned to do it. We think our fans definitely like it, and it definitely presents an opportunity for the horsemen and for us to prosper from… a new line of business,” Zander said.

Would Sports Betting Stop the Casinos and Racetracks from Fighting?

One of the benefits many in the state’s gaming industry is hoping for is that the prolonged fight over slot machines between racetracks and casinos would come to an end.

The two businesses have been in a fight over whether slot machines can be placed inside racetracks.

Casinos have claimed that by having slots in alternative locations hurts their bottom line.

But sports betting could soothe over any ruffled feathers in this argument, although casinos are still hesitant about having gaming machines anywhere other than a casino floor.

Spokesman like Jeff Morris, vice president of public relations at three of Illinois casinos believes that by adding gaming machines to the bill, the casinos could lose interest in sports betting.

“If (the sports betting bill) is independent on its own, you can run a sports betting bill and have a fruitful discussion about that,” said Morris.

“The problem is when you start layering in all the other stuff, like whether it’s expansion, and VGT (video gaming terminals) stuff, it just gets messy and you start losing support.”

What do Illinois Residents Want?

In various polls, residents of the state have widely supported expanding gambling with sports betting.

63 percent of residents supported legalized sports betting in a recent poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

In the same poll, 57 percent favored an overall expansion of gambling, meaning they wanted more casinos available to consumers inside the state.

Although there is plenty of discussions left actually to determine what will be in these bills, several interested parties are hoping that the measure will increase their bottom line.

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