08/26/2009 12:00AM

Illinois account bets made legal


Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois signed a bill on Tuesday that legalizes online and telephone betting in the state, a move that will put a stamp of approval on a practice that many account-wagering companies had conducted even without explicit authorization.

The legislation will significantly affect only one large national account-wagering company, Television Games Network, which had previously refrained from taking bets from Illinois residents because of its reluctance to test the legality of the practice. The other three major account-wagering companies - Twinspires.com, XpressBet, and Youbet.com - were already accepting bets from Illinois residents.

Horse racing interests have been pushing for legislation authorizing account wagering in Illinois for years, in the hopes of legally exploiting one of the biggest racing markets in the country, Chicago. The city is home to Hawthorne Racecourse and Arlington Park, which is owned by Churchill Downs Inc. Twinspires.com is owned by Churchill.