The Illinois State Lottery is set to hop on the backs of legalized sports betting, only offering parlays in the same marketplace as the traditional game that millions of Americans love so much.
Sports betting will be available at the state’s casinos, stadiums and racetracks. However, residents of Illinois will soon be able to grab milk, bread, and a parlay all in the same store. This will happen on a limited basis, as part of a program that’ll be one the first of its kind in the United States.
“The department is working diligently to research and properly implement this program,” Illinois Lottery general counsel Cornell Wilson said at the agency control board’s recent meeting. “It’s a great opportunity for the lottery to grow and facilitate the state’s revenue.”
Parlay cards have always been illegal in the United States outside Nevada, although many people typically participate in office, tavern and neighborhood pools on a regular basis. However, the legalization of sports betting has now opened the door for these traditional hush-games to make their way on to the mainstream.
In the state of Illinois, bettors will place their wagers at electronic kiosks that will be placed at around 2,500 locations in the first year of the pilot program. There’s also room for an additional 2,500 retailers to join in the second year of the plan.
Before anything takes place, the Illinois State Lottery will put out a $20 million master license out for competitive bids for companies to install, maintain, and operate the betting kiosks through a central network system.
Much like the plan for sports betting, the Illinois Gaming Board says they don’t have a timeline for the pilot launch of the lottery system. Rules still need to be drafted on the governing of certain sports, wager amounts, parlay sizes and things of that nature.
Wilson mentioned that the Illinois State Lottery is “reaching out to other states, looking at their models that they’re doing, working to understand how they’ve written new regulations and modified their statutes.”
Reaching out to other states shouldn’t take long, considering only Delaware is the only one that features a parlay-only, in-store lottery sports program. They have been operating since 2012 with 102 retailers, and it’s limited to college and NFL football, with a $2 minimum wager and at least three game selections included in their parlays.
According to the Delaware Lottery, this program raised $6 million last year for the state. While Illinois officials haven’t projected how much it could bring in for their state, the office of Governor J.B. Pritzker estimated that the entire sports-betting industry could rake in between $58 and $102 million per year when it’s all said and done.
Dustin Gouker, a lead analyst for PlayUSA.com, said the parlay-only system is a “wild card” for Illinois, but would only amount to a novelty in most aspects. He also added that most big casino operations won’t fret over this novelty act, saying that most serious bettors will take their money to big houses while risk-takers and smaller bettors will mostly try and take advantage of the high-risk high-reward lottery system.
“If it’s distributed enough, it might work out,” Gouker said. “But it has a lower ceiling than a true sports-betting product.”