Bad Actor Clause Modified in New Illinois Gambling Bill
A new gambling expansion bill in Illinois that seeks not only to clear the way for the construction of five new land-based casinos in the state, including one in downtown Chicago, but also provides for various types of Internet-based wagering in the Land of Lincoln, has been amended to make it easier for so-called “bad actors” to enter the market.
The legislation, known as Senate Bill 1739, has already passed a committee vote. Language that was removed from the bill previously stated that, “no Internet gaming license shall be granted to any applicant who has accepted wagers via the Internet in contravention of this Section or United States law in the 10 years preceding the application date.”
That verbiage was updated to require that a “bad actor” be committed of accepting wagers in violation of United States law, meaning that companies that operated US-facing online poker rooms after the 2006 passage of the UIGEA would theoretically be cleared to open up rooms in Illinois, providing the law passes and said rooms seek licenses in the state. Though there have been indictments related to online gambling, no major online poker or gambling site would be barred from the Illinois market due to having been convicted of accepting illegal wagers.
Illinois is facing a massive pension crisis, with the state’s pension program currently underfunded by nearly $97 billion. While the state’s Governor, Democrat Pat Quinn, has in the past expressed opposition to allowing for gambling expansion in his state and recently vetoed a gambling expansion bill that was passed back in 2011, casinos both online and off are surely looking like an attractive option as Illinois scrambles to find a way to solve its myriad fiscal problems.
According to Bill Black of the Illinois Revenue and Jobs Alliance, building more land-based casinos would be an effective way to bring jobs and revenue to the state.
“Anybody in Missouri probably looks across the river and says ‘holy cow, Illinois is going to sink in debt.’ We need the revenue, we need the jobs,” Black said.
He went on to add, “It will help the horse racing industry and the casinos are in areas where we know they will be successful. The state will get more money, the localities will get more money.”
Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has been a vocal supporter of the plan to open a resort-style casino in his city, said this week that the construction of such a property would be a boon to Chicago schools. The Chicago Public School system is facing a budget deficit of nearly $1 billion for next year, though local news blog the Chicagoist pointed out that a casino might not bring in enough revenue to solve the CPS’s imminent budget crisis.
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