CHICAGO — The well-known gambling phrase ‘all bets are off’ may have to be amended. Now some bets are on, as in online.
Former Chicago Tribune reporter Teddy Greenstein is now the senior editor for PointsBet, an online sportsbook located in ten states, including Illinois.
“The state law was such that if you wanted to sign up for an online sportsbook, you had to physically go to one of the locations, and now that’s not the case. Recently, the law changes, and now people are able to sign up for PointsBet on their phones, on their tablets, or their laptop.”
Greenstein says the sports gambling industry is only becoming more popular. It’s now legal in 30 states, with 20 states offering online wagering.
“For a whole generation of fans, it’s going to become second nature,” Greenstein said. “You’re going to have your phone out and you’re looking at adjusted odds.”
Last year, of the $7 billion bets in Illinois, 95% percent of the wagers came from online or mobile devices. But can you wager online on local teams?
“The answer to that is yes, but there’s an asterisk,” Greenstein said.
Illinois law prohibits online gambling for in-state teams. So when Loyola University or the University of Illinois teams are playing in the NCAA Tournament this week, gamblers will have to go to a physical sportsbook to place a bet on either the Ramblers or the Fighting Illini.
“On one hand, it’s a nuisance. On the other hand, it’s a lot better than it was last year when Illinois played Loyola and nobody in the state could legally bet on either team,” Greenstein said.
Last year, sports betting sites made more than $500 million in revenue, generating $79 million in state tax revenue and $6 million for Cook County.
“Now everything is regulated, everything is taxed, $78.8 million in tax money was generated for the state of Illinois in 2021 from sports betting and that goes to Illinois Capital Infrastructure Improvement Fund, so there really is a societal benefit from legalizing sports betting,” Greenstein said.
While experts predict a record $1 billion could be gambled on sports amid the month of March in Illinois, with it comes a warning.
Experts caution that gamblers should view sports wagering as a way to enhance entertainment, not to make money, especially as betting gets easier online.