Illinois legislature is in session for six days starting next week for veto session

Illinois Online Gambling, Daily Fantasy Sports Legalization Stirs To Life, With Narrow Window For Passage

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Illinois has a small window this fall during which the legislature could pass bills that would legalize online gambling and daily fantasy sports, or possibly just one of those.

That possibility looms as vehicles for legalization of both stirred to life ahead of a veto session that begins next week.

Illinois iGaming, DFS a possibility?

When last Illinois was in session, the state legislature had several bills in the pipeline that might have legalized DFS and/or online casinos and poker. After the Senate surprisingly passed a bill with both in it in May, momentum stalled in the House.

The state was in the midst of trying to balance its budget at that time, and consternation over the DFS/gaming bill resulted in it being put to the side.

But there’s a sense that the upcoming veto session offers the possibility of something on this front being passed.

But the window is admittedly short. The legislature is scheduled to be in session Oct. 24-26 and Nov. 7-9. The session is designed, as its name implies, for the legislature to assess bills vetoed by the governor, and possibly override those vetoes.

But there is wiggle room to pass other legislation, as well. And it appears DFS and online gambling might get a look in the coming weeks.

What to watch for in Illinois

Sources tell Online Poker Report that there are three bills to watch:

  • H 479: That’s the bill that was already passed by the Senate and is in the House for concurrence.
  • S 209: That bill was referred to the House Executive Committee’s Gaming Subcommittee on Tuesday.
  • S 1531: The legislation was moved to the House floor on Tuesday. It was one of the possible vehicles for iGaming and DFS earlier this year.

The latter two bills would still have to be loaded up with DFS and/or iGaming provisions, similar to what’s in H 479. The bill already passed by the Senate would in theory have the quickest path to passage, as it just needs to get out of committee and through a vote of the full House, and then onto the governor’s desk.

However, political concerns may put one of the other bills in play.

Illinois online casinos and DFS could produce tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue if legalized.

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One, both or neither?

In the spring, it appeared that iGaming and DFS would have to pass in tandem, because of lobbying from parts of the state’s existing land-based gaming industry. It appears likely that calculus is still in play, not a given.

Regardless, the end of October and start of November provide a glimmer of hope for legalizing both 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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