NCAA Tournament 2024

Why you can't bet on the Illinois Fighting Illini, Northwestern Wildcats March Madness games on your phone

Looking to sprinkle some cash on Illinois or Northwestern in March Madness? Here's what you need to know

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

So you’re trying to put together your perfect March Madness parlay, but you can’t find the Illinois Fighting Illini or Northwestern Wildcats anywhere on your sportsbook app of choice? That’s not a bug, nor is it user error. It’s actually state law.

When sports gambling became legal in Illinois in 2019, one of the provisions of the law was that betting on in-state collegiate teams wasn’t allowed.

“Except as otherwise provided in this Section, a licensee under this Act may not accept a wager for a sports event involving an Illinois collegiate team,” the law says.

That means no wagers on the Illini, Wildcats, DePaul Blue Demons, Southern Illinois Salukis, Loyola Ramblers, you name it.

However, the law was amended in 2021 under HB3136 to allow wagers on Illinois schools in certain situations.

“... a licensee under this Act may accept a wager for a sports event involving an Illinois collegiate team if:

        (1) the wager is a tier 1 wager;

        (2) the wager is not related to an individual athlete's performance; and

        (3) the wager is made in person instead of over the Internet or through a mobile application.”

A “tier 1” wager is defined as “determined solely by the final score or final outcome of the sports event and is placed before the sports event has begun.” Since a bet can’t be tied to an individual’s performance, that means no props for a certain player to hit a points, rebounds or assists threshold– or anything like that. Accordingly, bettors are limited to wagering on things like point spreads, the moneyline, or point total over/unders. Finally, if a bettor wants to sprinkle a little cash on the Fighting Illini or Wildcats this week, they’ll have to visit the sportsbook themselves.

So if you’re looking to bet on March Madness games for local teams from the comfort of your couch, you’re out of luck. But if you’re planning a trip to the sportsbook– and you make it to the counter before tipoff– you can still place your bets on the Fighting Illini or Wildcats.

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