Illinois Moves Forward with Sports Betting, Massachusetts Says NoPublished August 6, 2020 by Elana K
Illinois moves forward with sports betting with the opening of new sportsbooks in the state, although not without some controversy. At the same time, Massachusetts lawmakers have shelved the issue of sports betting until the fall, at the earliest.
As legalized online sports betting was gaining momentum across the United States, COVID-19 struck, which changed the game entirely. Some states that were pushing sports betting forward suddenly had other things to deal with, while others that were dawdling suddenly realized that sports betting could provide much-needed income. This past week, Illinois moved forward with sports betting but Massachusetts took a step backward.
Illinois legalized sports betting in March 2020, right before most professional sports were shut down across the United States due to COVID-19. At the time, Illinois law required in-person registration for sports betting, but Governor J.B. Pritzker suspended that requirement in June. Last week, he restored the state’s requirement for in-person sign-up, and the move has not been received favorably.
The reinstatement of the in-person registration requirement coincides with the upcoming launches of DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks, and following the re-opening of Illinois casinos in early July.
The launch of the big-name sportsbooks is not without controversy. It took roughly 18 months for the fantasy sports giants to be allowed to open in Illinois, and the only reason they were allowed to open at all is because they partnered with existing state casinos and rebranded according to state regulations. For example, DraftKings secured a partnership with Casino Queen, which has now rebranded itself as DraftKings at Casino Queen. Despite the controversy, Hoosiers are glad to have a variety of sports betting options.
In Massachusetts, the legalization of sports betting has been put on hold until the fall, at the earliest. Last week the state senate did not approve an amendment to legalize sports betting that would be included in a proposed economic development plan. The amendment would have allowed for statewide mobile sports betting, a 15% tax rate, and potential income for the state of $35 million. While the plan passed, the amendment did not.
Ultimately, it wasn’t included in the economic development plan because the plan was drawn up as a response to COVID-19, and lawmakers didn’t feel comfortable piggybacking sports betting onto an emergency plan. However, since Massachusetts is home to some of the most popular sports franchises in the country, it is likely that sports betting will be legalized sometime in the near future.