Illinois Internet Gaming Bill Said To Be On The Way
When a casino expansion bill passed the Illinois State Senate at the beginning of this month, it did so without an Internet gaming component that had, at least temporarily, been attached to the legislation. Language in that bill, which would put five new land-based casinos in the Land of Lincoln as well as permitting slot machines to be installed in the Chicago area’s two major airports, O’Hare and Midway, was removed to accommodate racetrack interests and also, it is theorized, to make the legislation more appealing to the state’s governor, Democrat Pat Quinn.
That legislation now awaits approval in the Illinois House of Representatives.
At the time the iGaming component was scrapped from the casino expansion bill, which also calls for the construction of a land-based casino in downtown Chicago, a plan that has raised much controversy, proponents of online gambling in Illinois promised that the online portion of the bill would soon be spun off into its own bill. Time for that is running short, as lawmakers have previously stated that the new Internet gaming bill would be introduced prior to the end of the current legislative session, which is set to end on May 31.
This week talk of the bill has begun to circulate, with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton confirming on Tuesday that a proposal is forthcoming, with much of the language apparently lifted from the previous bill from which it was removed. It should emerge soon, at least in committee, according to reports by Crain’s Chicago Business.
Illinois Gambling Bill Could Benefit Entire State
Cullerton believes the state could stand to profit handsomely by permitting residents to place wagers online. Under his plan, Internet gambling would be overseen by a division of the Illinois Lottery, which already conducts some online lottery ticket sales. Unlike in Nevada, where only online poker is allowed, the Illinois bill would permit a more comprehensive array of gambling options, however would restrict online sports-betting to events for which such wagering is explicitly legal.
According to Crain’s, operators could expect to pay up to $20 million to gain an online gambling operating license in the state, with tax rates falling somewhere between 7 and 20 percent. Illinois, facing a $100 billion public employee pension deficit, is, like many states, eyeing gambling expansion as a means of beefing up revenue. Currently, many Illinois residents drive across the borders to visit casinos in neighboring Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
As in other places where online wagering has been green-lighted – so far only Delaware, New Jersey, and the previously-mentioned Nevada – players would need to verify that they are at least 21 years of age before placing any real-money wagers and would also need to be physically located within the state when logging on.
Should Illinois pass an online gambling bill, it would be the first state in the Midwest region to do so, and the largest state, population-wise, to enact such legislation. Illinois is the fifth-largest state in the US, with a population of nearly 13 million people. We will be continuing to monitor this story as it develops, so be sure to check back for the latest updates.
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