March Madness pushed Illinois sports wagers to $335M last year

March Madness pushed Illinois sports wagers to $335M last year

Illinoisans are expected to again bet big on college sports during March, driven by March Madness. Sports wagers put $1B into Illinois government accounts last year, ranking it No. 3 in the U.S.

By the time March Madness ends, Illinoisans will have likely wagered more than $300 million during the month based on wagering from previous years.

Illinoisans’ total wagers, known as the “handle,” reached $335 million on college sports in March 2023, down slightly from the year before.

Illinois is the third-largest sports betting market in the nation behind New York and New Jersey in terms of tax revenue collected by government, according to the American Gaming Association.

The state could take an even bigger share of the winnings in the future if Gov. J.B. Pritzker gets lawmakers to agree to more than doubling the sportsbook tax from 15% to 35%. Pritzker proposed the hike as part of $898 million in new taxes, including taking $45 from the average family’s income taxes, to balance his record $52.7 billion budget for 2025.

Online wagers are prohibited for Illinois schools, such as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. They are allowed in-person at sports betting parlors.

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

Chicago’s new $1.7-billion casino development is exclusively paying for pension debt, but the initial temporary casino is already underperforming revenue projections. The city was expecting around $13 million in revenue for 2023 but only got a little over $3 million.

Sports betting also raises risk of addiction. March is designated as Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

State lawmakers are considering multiple bills touching on problematic gambling behavior, including the addition of gambling addiction awareness in middle school and high school health classes.

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