Your office March Madness pool is illegal, but these bills could change that

Your office March Madness pool is illegal, but these bills could change that

The illicit practice of gambling on sports in Illinois is enormously popular – and that might help spur change.

Technically illegal March Madness pools are an annual pastime for a number of Illinoisans. Sports betting is outlawed in a majority of states, including Illinois, due to a 1992 federal anti-gaming statute.

But with many wagering the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of sports betting this year, some state lawmakers in Illinois are making an early push for the Land of Lincoln to get in on the action.

There are five proposals aimed at legalizing and regulating sports gambling on the table in Springfield: two in the House, and three in the Senate.

The most recent proposal, Senate Bill 3432, filed by state Sen. Napoleon Harris, III, D-Harvey, has been assigned to the Senate Gaming Committee. The bill would create the Sports Wagering Act, which would allow licensed gaming facilities to offer sports wagering in-person at licensed facilities and over the internet through interactive sports wagering platforms.

The American Gaming Association projects Americans will spend $10 billion gambling on the 2018 NCAA Tournament. They estimate that 97 percent of it will be spent illegally.

A 2017 report by gaming analytics service Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, LLC, forecasts that an emergent sports betting market would be worth somewhere in the range of $7.1 and $15.8 billion if all states went along, and $6 billion among the 32 states in which it is currently outlawed, according to The Associated Press. Managing director Chris Gove estimates that Americans already bet roughly $60 billion through offshore services and bookies.

The firm predicts that Illinois, contingent upon the high court’s ruling, will facilitate sports gambling reform at the state level within five years.

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