Sports betting has finally launched in the State of Illinois, and just in time for the busiest three weeks of action. After a long nine months that were full of setbacks, the first official bet on sports has been placed in the state of Illinois.
Governor JB Pritzker hinted that the state was hoping to go live before the start of March Madness, and they got it done with just eight days to spare. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Ill., was the first location to be able to offer sports betting in the Land of Lincoln, but others are expected to join in a week.
Governor Pritzker signed a gambling expansion bill into law last June, which paved the way for the sports betting industry to be launched in Illinois. The Illinois Gaming Board began taking applications in December, and Rivers Casino was one of six locations to submit an application.
The Illinois Gaming Board issued three temporary betting licenses in early January, and Rivers Casino was one of them. Rivers Casino then began building its BetRivers Sportsbook, which is where the first bet was placed on Monday.
Illinois is now the 15th state to have live sports betting, with the number expected to rise to over 20 in the coming months. All 10 casinos in the state are allowed to apply for a sports betting license, and all but four of them have already started the process.
Three horse tracks and seven professional sports stadiums are also able to apply for a sports betting license under this new law.
The state of Illinois is looking to bring in a ton of new revenue by legalizing sports betting, and the money will be used for several big projects. Sports betting revenue will be taxed at a rate of 15%, which is one of the highest tax rates in the country.
The First Bet
Rivers Casino in Des Plaines had a small ceremony on Monday to officially open the sports betting industry in Illinois. The ceremony took place at the casino, while the BetRivers Sportsbook officially opened for betting at noon.
Eddie Olcyzk was the man that was chosen with the honor of making the first legal sports bet in Illinois history. Olczyk is the color commentator for the Chicago Blackhawks and is also a huge horse race betting personality.
The first-ever bet in Illinois was a $100 wager on the Chicago White Sox to win the American League pennant in 2020. If the White Sox pull off this feat, Olcyzk will win $1,600.
There are three other casinos in Illinois that appear ready to launch, and they were expected to go live on Monday. A pair of Hollywood Casinos in Joliet and Aurora and Argosy Casino in Alton were all expected to have a ceremony on Monday.
Penn National Gaming operates all three casinos, and it had its sportsbooks in place to go live as soon as they were given the green light.