New Jersey may soon have competition from Illinois

New Jersey has been neck-and-neck with Nevada in the past several months in terms of sports betting revenue and they may have more competition in the not-too-distant future.

Illinois will legalize sports betting soon, a date has not been set, and the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has already began to take applications for sports betting apps, casinos, racetracks, and pro sports fields and arenas.

In mid 2019 Illinois signed off on legal sports wagering and it is under the expectation that it will be fully running sometime in 2020. There have been studies that have shown that Illinois, which needs the money, would greatly benefit from sports wagering and studies have also shown the state will be a big fish in the American market.

French research firm FDJ Gaming Solutions had a report that stated, “Chicago’s strong sports tradition and great teams in all major leagues will be able to generate enthusiasm around sports betting”.

The expected handle by 2023 may be in a wide range from $2.8 billion to $5.2 billion according to Global Market Advisors. In terms of handle that number would only trail Nevada and will be on par with New Jersey and may even pass the Garden State.

License cost major stumbling block in Illinois

Just like the effort to have a resort that is integrated in Chicago the high cost is the main issue for getting sports wagering going in Illinois. The IGB has a price tag of $10 million for a license and that is very steep for operators considering that the sports betting business is one that has a low margin.

The fee would be for Illinois casinos, racetracks, and arenas and fields in the state that want to attain a permit for sports betting. When paying the $10 million fee the ones applying for the license would get a year and a half of protection from competitors, both mobile and online, like FanDuel and DraftKings. If companies such as those want to get into sports betting in Illinois they will have to shell out a staggering $20 million to the IGB.

Chicago has five major professional sports franchises with one each in the NBA, NHL, and NFL and two in MLB in the Cubs and White Sox. These teams have been very proactive in working with lawmakers in Illinois in terms of the issue of legalizing sports wagering. The teams have voiced concerns about the licensing fees. They also have issues in the language in legislation dealing with sports betting where is would allow land-based sportsbooks to be close to Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, United Center, and Guaranteed Rate Field. These are the four arenas and fields that are home to the five major sports franchises in the Windy City.

The forecast for the sports betting market in Illinois is a rosy one. This is only after operators will shell out the fees to be licensed in Illinois. Even if the figure is on the lower side of $2.8 billion, in the study from Global Market Advisors, that handle would only trail Nevada and New Jersey in terms of handle from sports wagering. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, of Illinois’ handle, the firm (Global Market Advisors) projects Illinois sportsbooks to hold between $168 and $338 million in revenue,”

There were rumours that legal sports wagering would be up and running in Illinois in time for the Super Bowl. However, in early January it looks as if that will not be the case. Still, legalized sports betting will happen sooner rather than later in Illinois, and Nevada and New Jersey will have another big boy to compete with in the US gaming market.

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