Illinois Senate has previously voted to allow online poker and casino games

Illinois Making Last-Minute Effort To Legalize Online Gambling, Sports Betting, Fantasy Sports

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This is a developing story and will be updated.

A last-minute effort to legalize daily fantasy sports, sports betting and online casinos in Illinois surfaced on Friday.

An amendment presented for Senate Bill 7 would load it up with provisions on all three fronts. The bill would appear to be an attempt to formally legalize and regulate all three forms of gaming.

There is not actually any authorizing language for any of the verticals. There is placeholder language for each, however, and the assumption is that language will be added at some point.

The timeline in Illinois

If Illinois is going to act on the legislation in the current session, time is short. The statehouse is supposed to adjourn on Thursday.

The bill is currently in the House Gaming Subcommittee, which is scheduled to have a hearing on Monday at noon local time. The amendment came from Rep. Robert Rita, who chairs the subcommittee. That makes it seem far more likely that these efforts will have some legitimate legs in the House.

The It might be more likely that we see the bill readdressed later this year rather than in a few short days. But little is known about the effort, so far, other than it exists. There is a possibility the legislature will return in June, or it may wait to return until after November elections.

More about the Illinois gaming bill

The bill started life as a bill intended to create a casino within the borders of Chicago. There are no casinos within the city limits, right now. Here are the placeholders as written into the amendment:

Article 5. Fantasy Sports Contest Act

Section 5-1. Short title. This Article may be cited as the Fantasy Sports Contest Act. References in this Article to “this Act” mean this Article.

Article 10. Internet Gaming Act

Section 10-1. Short title. This Article may be cited as the Internet Gaming Act. References in this Article to “this Act” mean this Article.

Article 15. Sports Wagering Act

Section 15-1. Short title. This Article may be cited as the Sports Wagering Act. References in this Article to “this Act” mean this Article.

An outline of the bill written by Rep. Rita and obtained by Online Poker Report says this about those sections:

Leave internet gaming, fantasy sports and sports betting sections blank to be resolved later

Illinois sports betting

Illinois sports betting is not legal, but the state can now legalize it after the US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on single-game wagering last week.

Illinois is one of several states that has considered sports betting bills in 2018, and several active versions exist in IL. A hearing took place on the subject in April.

And there’s this:

Illinois online poker and casino

Illinois online gambling is not a new subject in Illinois.

The state Senate passed a bill that would have legalized online casinos games in 2017, poker and DFS last year at the 11th hour, but it did not make it through the House.

Illinois daily fantasy sports

DFS is not legal in Illinois, according to the most recent attorney general opinion. In 2015, Lisa Madigan classified DFS as illegal gambling under existing state law. That hasn’t stopped DraftKings and FanDuel from serving the state, though, nor other operators.

Efforts to formally legalize DFS predate that opinion, but IL lawmakers have failed to pass anything for four years running. That includes this year, where five bills carried over without being considered to date.

Of the three new provisions included in S 7, you’d expect DFS to be the source of least controversy.

- 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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