Online poker, gambling and daily fantasy sports remain on Illinois' radar

Illinois Still Looms As Possibility For Legal Online Gambling As Pennsylvania Stagnates

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While nothing of substance is happening in Pennsylvania on the legalization of online gambling, Illinois remains a possibility for the fourth state to regulate online poker, iGaming and daily fantasy sports, according to a recent report.

Illinois still on the radar for online gambling

Illinois made a late push to legalize online gambling this spring, when the Senate quickly passed a bill that would have legalized DFS and iGaming in one fell swoop. But after that, progress stalled in the House.

However, the effort is not dead, according to the legislation’s sponsor, Rep. Michael Zalewski. More from GamblingCompliance:

“I’ve come to the conclusion this needs to be a collaborative approach,” Zalewski said about internet gambling and daily fantasy sports.

“I tried for two years to pass a fantasy bill without online gaming,” Zalewski said. “I’m sort of at my wit’s end with that approach, so I think we need to circle the wagons and try a new approach.”

Zalewski more or less confirmed here that the support of the existing land-based casino industry is needed to get DFS legalization to the finish line. Lawmakers and the DFS industry are using the “carrot” of iGaming to appease interests that have opposed DFS legislation in the past.

DFS takes place in a gray area in Illinois, after Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an opinion saying it is illegal gambling in 2015.

What are we looking for in Illinois on iGaming, DFS?

The state has finally passed a budget after two years of failing to do so. So that issue will not necessarily bog down talks about gambling in Illinois.

Still, online gambling remains as a possibility to generate meaningful revenue for a state that just hiked income and corporate tax rates.

The Senate is back in session starting this weekend, but any movement needs to happen in the House, where the online gambling/DFS bills currently reside in committee. The same online gambling bills that were in play this spring are still the mechanisms if and when the legislature takes it up.

GC reported that efforts on the legislation are likely to take place in November or early 2018. But with the progress already made, if stakeholders and lawmakers get on the same page and decide to advance legislation, things could happen quickly.

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Meanwhile, Pennsylvania idles

PA has long appeared to be the next state to legalize online gambling. But nothing much has happened of late. The House isn’t due to come back for a couple more weeks:

The first issue on the agenda is passing a revenue package to fund the budget. After that is accomplished, the hope is that a gaming bill — with online gambling included — will be on the agenda. The Senate has already passed a revenue package that counts on $200 million from a gaming package that is to be determined.

On the “bad news” side of the ledger, proponents of video gaming terminals have become more vocal, a development that portends trouble for the larger gaming package and the possibility of iGaming.

Whether either state will act to legalize online gambling in 2017 is up in the air right now. But two states looking at the issue is better than zero.

- 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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