March Madness means millions in tax revenue for Illinois

March Madness means millions in tax revenue for Illinois

Illinoisans bet more than $275 million on March Madness in 2022, with the state netting more than $2 million in tax revenue. Revenue totals for sports betting in 2022 were the second highest in the nation behind New York.

March Madness meant over $2 million in tax revenue for Illinois last year and this year could mean even more. 

Illinoisans’ total wagers, known as the “handle,” reached $278 million for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2022.

Illinois’ total sports betting market grew more than 50% last year, so there is good potential for 2023 March Madness betting to rise.

Illinois passed New Jersey in 2022 to become the second-biggest sports betting market, based on sportsbook revenue. New York was No. 1.

Online wagers accounted for 95% of total activity, which is prohibited for games with Illinois schools. Wagers on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign or on Northwestern University can only be made in-person. 

Gaming is touted as a great revenue source, but it’s pennies compared to what Illinois needs to pay off its pension debt. 

Legal gambling in total brought in $1.9 billion during fiscal year 2022. It seems significant until you stack it against Illinois’ $140 billion in pension debt. 

Chicago’s new billion-dollar casino development is exclusively paying for pension debt. In the best-case scenario, it will only eliminate 9% of what the city owes. 

Sports betting also raises risk of addiction. The Illinois Department of Human Services commissioned a study in March 2022 that found more than 10% of adult Illinoisans, over 1 million residents, have a gambling problem or are at risk of developing one.

Illinois state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, introduced a bill requiring sports betting companies to display addiction resources to gamblers after every 10 online wagers. Senate Bill 1508 unanimously passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services committee. 

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