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Gambling opponents worry about the lure of sports betting

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Tuesday, April 10, 2018  |  Article  |  By Benjamin Yount

Gambling, Gaming
Will legalizing sports betting in Illinois lead to fewer teens betting on games online?

That's the question anti-gambling advocates and state lawmakers are trying to answer.

If the U.S. Supreme Court allows for sports betting in the states, and if Illinois legalizes sports books, then only adults will be able to bet on games.

But what about young people? Anita Bedell with the anti-gambling group ILCAAAP told lawmakers at a hearing last week that young men are particularly vulnerable to sports gambling.

"Teens are gambling online at a significantly higher rate. A study from Science Daily said nearly 10 percent of high school students are gambling online. And nearly 40 percent are gambling in any form," Bedell said. "A growing number of teens are betting on sports. That puts them at risk of having gambling problems."

That's why Illinois should legalize sports betting, said state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford. If it is legal, the state can create rules for who can bet and where they can bet.

"I think you made a strong case that we have a problem with internet gaming from off-shore," Syverson told Bedell. "Which is why we're talking about ways to block illegal [gambling]. Then if the state develops its own sports books, we'd put our own regulations on it. You should be supportive of what we're trying to do."

Illinois' proposal would allow casinos to create their own sports books, and would leave the door open to betting kiosks across the state.

The plan hinges on a U.S. Supreme Court case on a state's right to gambling, Christie vs NCAA, which will be decided this summer.