Jim O'Donnell: 'No action' for legal books and bettors in Illinois on Illini-Loyola

  • Loyola center Cameron Krutwig gets the jump on Georgia Tech's Bubba Parham in the Ramblers' NCAA Tournament first-round victory Friday in Indianapolis.

    Loyola center Cameron Krutwig gets the jump on Georgia Tech's Bubba Parham in the Ramblers' NCAA Tournament first-round victory Friday in Indianapolis. Associated Press

  • Illinois guard Andre Curbelo gets and easy 2 in the Illini's 78-49 romp over Drexel in Friday's first round of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis.

    Illinois guard Andre Curbelo gets and easy 2 in the Illini's 78-49 romp over Drexel in Friday's first round of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis. Associated Press

 
Updated 3/20/2021 5:32 PM

WANT TO LEGALLY BET Sunday's round of 32 NCAA Tournament match between Andre Curbelo's Fighting Illini and Cameron Krutwig's Loyola in the state of Illinois?

Not today, Beansie.

 

Thanks to an absolutely archaic insertion into legislation enabling legal sports gaming two years ago, Illinois-based speculators are shut out.

Section 25.25.d of the code forbids licensed operators from taking wagers on sports events involving in-state colleges and universities plus "minor league games."

In theory, the intent is to "protect the integrity" of games and "protect college athletes from gambling interests."

In reality, what it means is that a bettor trying to stay within the rule of the law can either sit out the Land o' Winkin' classic, drive to Hammond or Iowa to get down or call ol' Garrou, the legacied illegal bookie.

Illinois went up as a 6-point favorite over the Ramblers at legal books Friday night. The line was quickly pushed to minus-7 for the game (11:10 a.m.; CBS; Jim Nantz and Bill Raftery).

The silliness of the clause is extended by the fact that if an event such as the Big Ten tournament was held at the United Center, no wagering could be taken on any tipoffs involving Northwestern or Illinois but allowed on all others.

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So, in a 14-team survivor such as that, players from Northwestern and Illinois would be "protected" from gambling interests. Members of the other 12 teams would be subject to all of the Chicago temptations that Carl Sandburg warned about.

Given the astonishing sophistication of modern technology -- and man's eternal quest for money, money, money -- fixing select college basketball games in today's bet-crazy culture is undoubtedly child's play.

The key is not to get caught. And the key to not getting caught is to check your greed at the laptop and your smarts before hitting "send."

In 1994, a point-shaving scandal involving a Bill Frieder team at Arizona State traced part of its money sourcing all the way to a father and son operating out of The Sports Page in north Arlington Heights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

ASU ace Stevin "Hedake" Smith and associates got cracked because: 1) A few in the pipeline got too mouthy about some "sure things" and, 2) Legal Vegas books took note of outrageous sums being bet on a late-season game.

Fortunately, there is legislation pending in Springfield to amend the Illinois brainlessness.

It can't come soon enough.

NOT HAVING ILLINOIS OR LOYOLA on the board for March Madness will potentially cost the state's five legal operators millions of dollars in handle, tens of millions if either makes it to the Final Four.

Based on January figures released by the Illinois Gaming Board, that is of only transitting impact to DraftKings (East St. Louis), FanDuel (East Peoria), BetRivers (Des Plaines), William Hill (Elgin) and PointsBet (Cicero/Stickney).

A scant 10 months after the first legal bet was made by Eddie Olczyk at Rivers, the privileged five handled $581 million on sports gaming.

That rockets the state to the fourth-highest in the nation, trailing only Tony Soprano's New Jersey ($958M), Nevada ($646M) and Pennsylvania ($615M).

With on-site books closed due to COVID until mid-January, 98.9% of that $581M in Illinois was bet online.

Bottom-line "hold" to the legal books was $49.4M, a pre-expenses margin of slightly more than 8% from a nonlabor intensive revenue stream.

STREET-BEATIN': Yes, Illinois's 78-49 win over Drexel was an impressive scrimmage. But what was Brad Underwood doing with Ayo Dosunmu out on the floor in a 30-point game with 3:00 to go? (Bless 'im, but there's no question Underwood has that Frank Martin-Bob Huggins "implode chip" in his coaching psyche.) ...

Speaking of Dosunmu, one of the biggest threats to any deep Illini run is his increasing propensity to play James Harden "hero ball" at the worst moments. (Reel it in, dude.) ...

Both Illinois (minus-22½) and Loyola (minus-5½ in its 71-60 win over Georgia Tech) covered. (Again, thank you Illinois state legislature -- not.) ...

Anyone who had No. 15 Oral Roberts beating No. 2 Ohio State Friday should receive free video of Joel Osteen in his preteen Jerry Mathers phase. ...

Michigan State's OT loss to UCLA in The First Four confirmed that Tom Izzo's departing outfit has one of the lowest baskets IQs of any he's ever coached. The hope can only be that brilliant Max Christie of Rolling Meadows High knows what he's getting into in East Lansing. ...

Maywood police chief Valdimir "Val" Talley is playing it extremely close to the buttons with any information regarding his staff's attempt to catch the perpetrators of the brutal carjacking of Bill Hazen. (With Lyft coordinates and originating account information presumptively accessible, this investigation begins with Jim Rockford on second base.) ...

And Phil Mushnick -- on Mark Few's remarkable knack for talent-scouting the globe: "No. 1-ranked Gonzaga has succeeded for the past several years on the backs of players recruited via Rand McNally."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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