House Must Still Vote On Online Gambling, DFS Provisions

Illinois Senate Passes Online Gambling Bill At Last Minute; Faces Uncertain Future In House

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Illinois’ Senate passed a bill that would legalize both online gambling and daily fantasy sports in the state in what was the legislature’s final day of the session.

The Illinois House must still vote on the legislation. For a time it appeared that could happen late on Wednesday night.

However, the House decided to adjourn until June, when it will reconvene to tackle a variety of subjects. The major topic of discussion will be passing a state budget.

What happened with DFS and online gambling on Wednesday

Online gambling amendments had been dumped in a number of bills. The ones in play on Wednesday included:

The Senate amended the House bill on the floor with provisions that would legalize DFS and online gambling on Wednesday evening. After a short debate, the Senate passed it, 42-10.

The Senate bill was only a DFS bill, but did not advance. However, it appears to still be in place, minus iGaming.

Illinois online gambling, out of nowhere

The effort to legalize online gambling became serious in recent days as the legislature closed in on a planned adjournment on Wednesday. It came up almost out of nowhere, and was tied to the legalization and regulation of daily fantasy sports.

Fantasy sports has been a serious topic of discussion in recent years, but hasn’t made it to the finish line. That’s partly due to opposition from Rush Street Gaming, with operates Rivers Casino outside of Chicago. (A DFS bill did pass out of the Illinois Senate once before; it stalled in the House in 2016.)

The inclusion of online gambling in a DFS effort was touched on in a Chicago Tribune report:

Including internet games was a move designed to bring on board casino operators, who view fantasy sports as competition but have long wanted to break into the online gambling space.

“There was controversy last year as to why are we regulating daily fantasy sports activity, which is ongoing in the state, and not regulating internet gaming, which is also occurring,” said Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat who is sponsoring one of the bills. “So what this bill attempts to do is also regulate and bring licensure and supervision of internet gaming under the jurisdiction of the Gaming Board. And it would limit the operation of internet gaming to existing casinos.”

Online gambling would generate more than $100 million for state coffers in the coming years, according to our revenue analysis.

The online gambling provisions could generate much needed revenue in a state struggling to come up with new streams.

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Another path forward for online gambling?

While Wednesday was the last day the legislature scheduled to meet for the session, that is not be the end of the road.

The state is going on two years without passing a budget, and that apparently means the legislature goes into overtime.

More on that from The Associated Press:

The Illinois House is indicating that there won’t be a budget agreement before the end of the day when lawmakers face a critical deadline.

The House adopted a resolution saying after they adjourn on Wednesday, members would meet in “continuous session.”

That means measures could be considered beyond today. That could theoretically include online gambling and DFS.

So Wednesday was a step forward, and not just a dead end, for DFS and online gambling.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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