CHICAGO - It is now possible in Illinois to place bets on sporting events.
Sports betting was legalized by a law signed last summer, and multiple casinos applied for licenses. The first license went to Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.
Whether it is the Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Bulls or Blackhawks, Chicago sports fans can now make a legal buck, or lose money, while cheering for their favorite teams.
Hundreds packed the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines on Monday for the official opening of the BetRivers Sportsbook, which is the first legal land-based sports gambling venue in the state of Illinois.
“We spent a lot of time checking out sports books in Vegas, and we really wanted to combine what we thought was the best of each of the sports books for this venue here,” said Carlin who works at Rivers Casino.
The 4,800 square-foot, $4 million sports bar features multiple massive TV screens, leather couches, and betting kiosks where you can wager on almost anything.
“You can bet on cricket, you can bet on darts, you can bet on motor sports,” Carlin said.
“For it to come to life is a very cool moment,” said Democratic State Rep. Mike Zalewski.
Zalewski sponsored last year’s bill legalizing sports gambling in Illinois, with potential tax revenues of $15-$20 million a month.
Zalewski says like marijuana, the state is tapping into what had been a large underground economy.
“I just don’t see why we would continue to allow for an illegal market place, both in cannabis and sports betting, when the state can build schools, build universities,” Zalewski said.
The first official sports bet was made by former Chicago Blackhawks star and current broadcaster Eddie Olczyk, who put down $100 on the White Sox to win the American League pennant.
“They have to get to the World Series is what that means. So I was looking at the value and I got 16 to 1. And being a colon cancer survivor, and this being Colorectal awareness month, any winnings will go to colon cancer research,” Olczyk said.
With opening day just around the corner, we checked the odds on both our Chicago baseball teams. The White Sox are 35 to 1 to win the World Series. The Cubs are 25 to 1.