Illinois Opens Sports Betting Application Process

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Nearly six  months after legalizing sports betting, the state of Illinois on Thursday released sports wagering license applications and emergency rules. According to the Illinois Gaming Board, the rules allow potential operators and vendors to apply for the following licenses: master sports betting, management services provider, supplier, Tier II official league data supplier, and occupational.

According to a press release from the IGB, the rules released today are “Phase 1” and do not include any operational guidelines. The IGB expects to release more complete proposed rules early in 2020.

The license applications lay out a sliding scale of application fees for master sports betting licenses. Sports facilities, such as the United Center or Wrigley Field, that want to have sportsbooks will pay the highest application fee of $10 mm. That fee covers four years and then the licensee can renew for $1 mm for every four years. The cheapest application fee for a master license is for those with organization licenses issued under the Illinois Horseracing Act of 1975, and issued before June 28, 2019. These applicants will pay the equivalent of 5 percent of 2018 handle or $2,341,231, whichever is greater. A renewal fee is not addressed, though according to the emergency rules, a Tier II official league data license is valid for three years and an occupation license is valid for one.

IGB promises expedited licensing process

Licensing applications can be found on the IGB website and are available in “short form” and “long form” versions. The short form versions are for applicants who are already owners licensees, organization gaming licensees or those whose applications are pending for an organization gaming license. The short form is 25 pages long. The 39-page long form is for operators interested in applying for a master license for a sports facility, an organization license or a management services provider license.

There does not appear to be any deadline for applying for a license nor any promise of how long the approval process will take, though according to an IGB press release, the “rules and applications will allow for an expedited licensure process.”

The 62-page “emergency rules” include a definitions section, with detailed descriptions of the types of licenses available and who can apply. The emergency rules cover the application process rather than setting down any framework for what legal sports betting will look like in Illinois. Within the emergency rules, there are sections about how to apply for a license, how to appeal should a license application be denied, standards of conduct for licensees, and the like.

The IGB opened a public-comment period in the early fall ahead of promulgating sports betting rules. Among the key issues brought forward by operators were the official league data mandate, branding, and the requirement for in-person registration. Other than providing a license application for Tier II official league data providers, none of these issues are addressed in the current version of the emergency rules, which the IGB referred to as “Phase 1” rules in its press release.

“Today’s release of applications and phase 1 rules is a significant step in the process the General Assembly and Governor Pritzker began earlier this year — the ethical and transparent implementation of sports wagering in Illinois,” said Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter.

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