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Lawmakers weigh whether to allow mobile sports betting in Illinois

WICS - RD Sports Betting PKG
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Time is running out for lawmakers to pass a sports betting bill if they want to get through during the spring legislative session.

A House committee met in Chicago Thursday for a hearing on sports betting.

Part of the discussion centered around whether or not to allow people to place sports bets on cell phones.

"Mobile sports wagering is not only the future; it’s the now," said Jake Williams, vice president of legal and regulatory affairs for SportRadar US on behalf of iDEA Growth.

That's why industry experts pushed lawmakers to allow mobile betting in the bill they're writing to legalize sports betting in Illinois.

"I’ve seen some of the amendments require registration in person versus mobile," said Robert Davidman, a partner in Spreads Group. "Requiring people to register in person will drastically reduce the number of people who use sports wagering."

Data shows that most people bet through their cell phones in states that have legalized sports betting and allow a mobile option.

"It’s pretty much 80% of what's going on," Williams said. "It’ll just continue to grow, so if you exclude it in any way or require in-person registration, then you’re not addressing what is happening right now."

Those that treat people with gambling problems are worried about the prospect of mobile sports betting.

"My initial thought is, oh no, because I have clients that are compulsive gamblers," said Mary Beth Ray, licensed clinical professional counselor at Professional Counseling Offices in Springfield.

Ray said she'd be concerned for her clients if this goes through, and she'd be worried more people would get addicted.

"It sounds like a fun thing to do and of course people are very into sports, so it's very enjoyable, but it does not take long to become addicted to gambling," Ray said.

Lawmakers have just five weeks to get a sports betting bill written and passed before the spring legislative session comes to a close.

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If they don’t, they’ll leave a $212 million hole in Gov. JB Pritzker's proposed budget.

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