(The Center Square) – For the first time, Illinoisans will be able to legally place a wager on Olympic event.
The Illinois Gaming Board approved Olympic betting in May, joining seven other states that allow it. The COVID-19 pandemic caused last year’s games to be canceled.
Over $500 million was spent on sports bets in May in Illinois, generating from 5 to $6 million in taxes for the state after taxing the total handle. New Jersey is the only other state to surpass $500 million in April and May.
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge with Bookies.com said the Illinois sports betting market is robust despite limitations.
“Pretty big numbers even with going back to the in-person registration which I always think is a mistake because you exclude a certain portion of the population that doesn’t have the means to physically drive to a casino,” Kilbridge said.
The Illinois government decided to stop allowing online registration for sports betting, forcing new participants to physically go to a casino to register. Prior to April, an exemption had been made due to the pandemic to allow online registration.
Kilbridge believes betting on the summer games, which begin July 23, adds some excitement.
“Being able to place a few dollars in bets on some of your favorite events is just a way to make it a more active, engaging experience,” he said.
Illinois has six online sportsbooks including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers, PointsBet, Barstool and William Hill.
Some of the bets that can be made include most medals won by a country, men’s team basketball, and women’s water polo.
“I don’t envy the folks who have to handicap the fencing and the trampoline events and all sorts of things,” Kilbridge said.