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Illinois introduces legalized sports betting

Illinois became the fifth US state to pass sports betting legislation this year after Governor J.B Pritzker signed into law a wide-ranging $45bn capital funding package on Friday.

As part of the bill, sports facilities with a seating capacity greater than 17,000 can apply for a license to offer sports betting inside or within a five-block radius of the venues. Licences will initially cost $10m and are valid for four years.

This provision would include Soldier Field (home of the NFL Chicago Bears), the United Center (NBA Chicago Bulls and NHL Chicago Blackhawks), Wrigley Field (MLB Chicago Cubs), Guaranteed Rate Park (MLB Chicago White Sox), SeatGeek Stadium (MLS Chicago Fire), Chicagoland Speedway (Nascar), and World Wide Technology Raceway (Nascar/IndyCar).

The Chicago Fire could be the first team to benefit from this clause after Major League Soccer relaxed its commercial guidelines last week to allow sportsbooks in its stadiums.

The Illinois law, which taxes handle at a rate of 15 per cent (17 per cent in Chicago), bans wagers on the state’s colleges and universities.

In a move designed to favour sportsbook operators who have a physical presence in the state, such as casinos and racetracks, online-only sports betting companies – notably DraftKings and FanDuel – have been prevented from entering the market for the first 18 months of legalization. Online-only licenses, which will be available to just three operators, will also cost $20m each, the highest fee in any state.

Sports betting is proving big business for US states following the Supreme Court’s repeal of a federal ban last year. Last month New Jersey became the first US state to have more legal sports wagering than Nevada in any given month.

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