ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — “March Madness” will get underway on Thursday, and chances are that residents, or someone they know, will be betting on the games.

Sportsbooks are expecting record numbers of bets in Illinois during the tournament. While residents cannot bet on Illinois or Northwestern, them being in the tournament should boost betting numbers.

Sports gambling is already a big business in Illinois, with $1 billion in bets places in January alone.

“It’s just the growing popularity of sports wagering,” said Dave Briggs of PlayIllinois. “Some of those numbers are national. I know in Illinois they bet somewhere close to $290 million just on the March Madness tournament here, so we expect that to be a little bit higher this year just because it’s become more prevalent…part of peoples’ lives.”

Both Illinois and Northwestern begin playing on Thursday.