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Other States Catching up to Illinois in March Towards Legal Sports Betting

1st March, 18:02

Last year Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that allowed for six more casino licenses in the state and to make horse racing venues able to provide casino games. This year's horse racing season starts in March, but there's another, and much bigger, sports wagering event coming up this month.

The NCAA Tournament, colloquially known as "March Madness," generates billions of dollars in wagering, according to the AGA (American Gaming Association). It's easy to see why Gov. Pritzker wants to get legal sports betting up and running in the Land of Lincoln in time for the tournament, which begins in earnest on March 19. If Illinois doesn't get going, they are likely to fall behind other Midwestern states.

Take Kansas, and why not since we're on the topic of college basketball, and it's the state that is home to the sport's founding father, Dr. James Naismith. Legal sports betting is one step closer to coming towards fruition in the Sunflower State after their Senate passed a retail and mobile bill on Wednesday.

The bill, SB 283, just beat the chamber crossover deadline on Thursday. If Kansas Governor Laura Kelly agrees to the terms and signs the bill within 10 days, SB 283 will become law. Income from sports betting in Kansas is expected to bring in anywhere from $360 million to $600 million annually. However, even if the bill is not approved, residents of Kansas can still wager legally online at operators such as Chumba Social Casino or Monkey Knife Fight. Either way, a lot of money will be wagered, both legally and under the table, in a totally basketball crazy state like Kansas this upcoming month.

Another state in the region, one that actually borders Illinois, Iowa, legalized sports wagering last summer. Since they went live last August, the state has seen $270 million in sports wagers, which have have added an additional $1.5 million in tax revenue.

So as Iowa moves full speed ahead and Kansas gets their ducks in a row, how are we coming along? The most ambitious goal, originally, for getting legal sports wagering in full effect in Illinois was the Super Bowl, but obviously that didn't happen. Coincidentally, the beginning of discussions on legalizing sports betting in Illinois coincided with the start of last year's March Madness, according to Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee Chairman Mike Zalewksi.

To go from that stage to in the words of Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars "fully operational," would convey a decently streamlined legislative process, but to make a painfully obvious pun, don't bet on it.

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