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Illinois 'Integrity Fee' Likely if Sports Betting Becomes Legal: Cubs, Bulls Demand Cut

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Apr/21/2019

  • Teams want 25 cent cut on every $100 bet to support monitoring of suspicious betting activity

  • To date, none of the eight states that have legalized sports betting have included the fee

  • "It's a bit challenging to legislatively mandate a fee that goes to a third-party commercial interest," said Jennifer Roberts, associate director of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.


WHY BE AN AFFILIATE WHEN YOU CAN GET 100%?  JUST PAY $5 PER PLAYER

Bookmakers throughout Illinois are likely to have little in the way of any competition, provided the professional sports franchises in Chicago have any say in the matter.

The Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks all want a piece of the action in what is referred to as an "integrity fee", which in theory would be used to monitor suspicious behavior and potential exploitation of players by gambling syndicates and others, as well as for educational purposes.  The Bears are yet to comment. The leagues would receive a 25 cent cut of every $100 bet on their sports in the state.

It's an issue that has blocked lawmakers from getting bills passed in other states.  This is mostly because the casinos and horse tracks will already be shelling out a significant portion of their revenues to the state in the form of taxation and licensing fees.

"That remains a really big issue of contention among all of us who are working on this," said state Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Riverside Democrat who's leading the negotiations in the House. "It's quite frankly an audacious ask."

Zalewski also confirmed that the leagues are "intrinsically involved in what's going to be a brand-new industry."

It's been a year since the US Supreme Court ruled to permit sports betting in all states that wish to allow the activity.  Most, including Illinois, will need to amend their current laws.  To date, none of the eight states opening their doors to sportsbooks have opted to include the integrity fee.

Michigan state Representative Brandt Iden has previously considered the controversial inclusion but came under severe backlash.

“I believe that there’s an opportunity to have a holistic discussion to ensure we are coming up with the best policy where all parties involved feel they have a fair shake in the policy discussion," Iden said back in November. "We’re still having conversations to ensure all voices are heard.”

“Whether [a fee is] off-the-top or otherwise, my goal is to take 2019 to put the best policy together we can, while having everyone’s voices heard,” he said. “My goal is to spend 2019 on this.”

The inclusion of an integrity fee has been played down in most recent conversations related to his bill.  Iden has since delayed introduction of the bill.

In Illinois, the professional sports leagues will likely have a much more persuasive impact on lawmakers.

"Sports betting has been occurring on a massive scale for decades in an illegal market. None of this money benefits the state and there are zero protections for consumers," the Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox wrote last month in a joint letter to Zalewski.

To maximize revenue and protect consumers, the teams said, Illinois needs "a sports betting framework that includes a partnership between the state and its professional sports teams and their leagues."

"It's a bit challenging to legislatively mandate a fee that goes to a third-party commercial interest," said Jennifer Roberts, associate director of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. "Nevada has had a long history of legal, regulated sports betting without that fee."

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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