Setting up the sports betting market in Illinois is likely to be complex. A delay right out of the gate demonstrates why.
On June 28, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into a law that allowed a large expansion of gambling in the state. This is the first phase into the plan that will eventually bring a brand new casino into the city of Chicago.
On July 11 the Illinois Gaming Board announced that Union Gaming Analytics, a Las Vegas-based company, will be in charge of the study of feasibility for the Chicago casino. This pick came four days after the Illinois Gaming Act’s law deadline for picking a consultant.
The study will concentrate on the aspect of finance to see if the casino is doable in Chicago and it will be presented further in August. The City of Chicago is going to pay for the feasibility study.
Union Gaming Analytics won the bid over two other companies. Those two bids were disqualified, according to a July 11 press release from the Illinois Gaming Board, because they were submitted past the deadline.
The Illinois Gambling Act makes it clear the Illinois Gaming Board must decide 90 days following the results of the feasibility study to see if it can be recommended to the General Assembly that a Chicago casino would be authorized and ultimately built.
On top of the Chicago casino, the Illinois Gambling Act allows for the building of casinos in Waukegan, the south suburbs as well as a three other locations. Slot machines and table games at the horse tracks in town will also be added.
Pritzker’s entire plan for this is a $45 billion one called “Rebuild Illinois” where the revenue from this gambling expansion will go into the building of projects at public schools, community colleges, state universities and other facilities.
Between the Chicago casino, the other casinos in the state, sports betting, horse track action and video gambling, there is a lot to sort out in this capital plan for Pritzker and his staff.
The Chicago casino won’t be easy and considering Union Gaming Analytics was ultimately chosen after the Illinois Gaming Board accepted bids after the July 8 deadline. The consultant has until Aug. 12 to submit a report to the gaming board.
Following that, the process for accepting applications for an owner’s license for the Chicago casino will take place. Then they’ll have up to a year, once those applications come through, to award that license to the new casino owner.
After further approvals a casino owner will be selected. It will operate out of a temporary place for two years while the long-term new building gets constructed.
The other important note from all this is that the sports betting landscape will take place at brick-and-mortar facilities where bettors will need to create an account.
Exactly three online sportsbooks will be made 18 months following the licenses are issued. Sports venues (that seat 17,000 people), horse tracks and casinos will all have to get a separate license to authorize sports betting directly from the Illinois Gaming Board.
The next date of note is Aug. 1 when the Illinois Gaming Board is set to meet. It will have to create applications for the sports betting licenses and set the guidelines for the application process.
All in all, there is a lot going on in Illinois and Chicago in particular. However, the moving parts are in place, which was not true until recently.