Proposed Illinois Casino Bill to Include Internet Gambling
When Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a casino expansion bill earlier this week, it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone, including the sponsor of the bill, State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan). The bill, which was passed by the Illinois General Assembly way back on May 31, 2011, would have cleared the way for the construction of five new casinos in the state, including one that would be located in the nation’s third largest city of Chicago.
The bill was held up for nearly two years due to parliamentary maneuvering that essentially stalled the bill, preventing it from reaching the governor’s desk as lawmakers attempted to reach accord with the generally anti-gambling Quinn. Because a new legislative session has begun since the bill was first passed, the State Assembly is unable to override the veto.
In a statement, Quinn said of the 2011 online gambling bill, “This is a bad bill for the people of Illinois. As I made clear when I vetoed Senate Bill 1849 last summer, I will not approve of any gaming legislation without strong ethical standards, comprehensive oversight and dedicated resources for education.”
After Quinn issued his veto, State Senator Link stated that a new bill was coming, and fast. He lived up to his word, as a new casino expansion bill passed a committee yesterday with a possible vote in the Illinois State Senate coming as early as today. Earlier this week, Link said that the new bill would be similar to the one Quinn already vetoed, with changes including stipulations that gambling interests be prohibited from making campaign contributions and stricter regulation of the market.
What came as a huge surprise to many, however, is that the new legislation also seeks to regulate Internet-based wagering in Illinois, which currently permits the purchasing of lottery tickets online but offers no other forms of Internet betting. As with the legislation signed into law by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie last week, the Illinois bill would provide for a broad variety of Internet wagering, not limited to just online poker as is the case in Nevada.
Under the terms of the bill, a new entity would be established to oversee Internet gambling in the Land of Lincoln, the Division of Internet Gaming. This Division would be overseen by the Illinois Department of Lottery. The Division of Internet Gaming would be fairly powerful under the new law, tasked with establishing regulations much like the New Jersey Departmenet of Gaming Enforcement has been with the passage of the Internet gambling bill in that state.
The language of the bill is fairly broad in terms of exactly what types of games might be accessible to Illinois residents, but seems in no way to preclude online poker, saying in part that “‘Internet game’ means a fee-based or non-fee-based game of skill or chance that is offered by an Internet gaming licensee, as authorized by the Division. “Internet game” also includes gaming tournaments conducted via the Internet in which players compete against one another in one or more of the games authorized in this definition or by the Division or in approved variations or composites as authorized by the Division.”
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