Virginia Sends Bills to Governor, While Illinois Opens for Business

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Two states that have driven the sports betting conversation in recent weeks, Virginia and Illinois, reached milestones in their pursuit of legalized wagering.

This weekend, Virginia lawmakers made news by giving their approval to two bills that will legalize casinos and sports betting, as they worked around the possible poison pill of restricting wagering on Virginia colleges.

After Virginia’s announcement, Illinois reached the end of their long path to legal sports betting on Monday when the sportsbook at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened their doors.

What Sports Betting Bills Did Virginia Legislators Approve?

Lawmakers in Virginia, spurred by the surge of neighboring states approving wagering and to potentially lure the Washington Redskins to move from Maryland, approved two bills that will bring sports betting and casinos to the state for the first time.

Legislators had to navigate several controversial points before the measures passed. One of the biggest sticking points of the legislation being the inclusion of legal betting on Virginia colleges and universities.

One of the loudest voices on the topic was university leaders who believe that sports betting creates potential problems for student-athletes who could be persuaded to shave points or cheat due to financial influence from criminals or organized crime.

In the end, the leaders got their wish as the bills sent to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk restricted the ability for Virginia bettors to wager on in-state college events.

The first bill approved the construction of casinos in the cities of Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Richmond. But before a shovel can be placed into the ground in any of those five cities, local residents will get a chance to approve the casino location first.

The second bill was the adoption of sports betting via mobile apps and online websites. With the casinos taking a few years before they are ready, approving mobile betting allows the state to gain revenue before the end of 2020 if the Governor approves the measure.

Sports Betting Opens in Illinois

The first bet in Illinois happened on Monday morning as Chicago Blackhawks announcer Eddie Olczyk placed a $100 on the local White Sox baseball club to win the American League at 16-1 odds. The bet happened at the first casino sportsbook location at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois.

The Rivers Casino sportsbook opening allows bettors in the state to wager on March Madness when the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament starts on the 17th of this month.

When asked about the timing of the opening of Rivers Casino considering the current climate, chairman Neil Bluhm told the gathered media, “So I’m equally confident that while we’re opening a sportsbook today, when we’re all worried about a virus, and the financial markets are all melted — we will come through this, and this country will be equally successful or more successful than before, and our casino will continue to thrive.”


With the Rivers opening, Illinois begins a multi-step process that has plans to open more sportsbooks in casinos, ballparks, and stadiums. This process also includes the creation of mobile apps through the casinos that are licensed.


When Could Virginia Get Sports Betting?

If Governor Ralph Northam signs the bills then betting could be ready by the end of the year through mobile apps.

Could the Virginia Bill Bring the Washington Redskins to the State?

Yes, one of the qualifications of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to bring the team to Virginia was the legalization of sports betting.

What Are the Annual Handle Estimates for Illinois?

Experts believe that Illinois could top Nevada and New Jersey with anywhere from $5 to $10 billion in yearly handle.

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