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Sports betting in Illinois to be ready for wagers by March Madness

ROCKFORD (WREX) -- The long wait for sports bettors in the state of Illinois will soon be over as sports betting will be live in time for one of the busiest betting events of the year. March Madness.

That's according to a statement obtained by 13 WREX from Governor JB Pritzker's press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh.

"The Governor is pleased that Illinois sportsbooks will open for business by March Madness, generating revenue to rebuild universities, hospitals and other facilities across the state," Abudayyeh said.

A massive gambling expansion bill was passed back in June of last year, which included legalizing sports betting in the state. Despite the bill's passing, the state has been slow to put official rules in place and approve licenses to operate sportsbooks.

Meanwhile, two states that border Illinois, Iowa and Indiana, have beat the state to the punch and are currently open to sports bettors.

Three casinos in Illinois have already been issued temporary sports betting operating permits so far, including Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin and Argosy Casino in Alton.

The City of Rockford will soon have a new casino, but nothing is official yet, as the proposed Hard Rock Casino still needs approval from the Illinois Gaming Board before the project can move forward.

March Madness is a coveted time to open sports betting as it is one of the two biggest sports betting events of the year, along with the Super Bowl.

Remember, however, if any teams from the state of Illinois are playing this March, you won't be able to make a wager on their games. Part of the sports betting law in Illinois prohibits bettors from wagering on collegiate teams in the state.

Once sports betting is officially live in Illinois, bettors will be able to bet at casinos with a sportsbook as well as through mobile apps offered by those casinos. 18 months after sports betting goes live, online only casinos like FanDuel and DraftKings will be allowed to start offering mobile sports betting.

No official date has been set for sports betting to go live. The first game of the men's NCAA basketball tournament is scheduled for Tuesday, March 17.

13 WREX Newsroom

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