Illinois has flirted with passing online poker and gambling in the past

Illinois Sports Betting And Online Casino Up For Debate In Legislature This Week

Illinois sports betting hearing

The second chapter on Illinois sports betting and possible online casino expansion is set to take place Wednesday at the state capitol.

State Rep. Bob Rita, a Democrat, will bring together two House subcommittees to discuss various gaming topics such as sports betting, online gambling, daily fantasy sports (DFS) and casino expansion.

Who’s providing testimony on sports betting and more?

Here is an unofficial list of speakers for Wednesdays hearing in Springfield:

  • State Rep. Lou Lang
  • Gaming stakeholders: Walker’s Bluff, Casino Queen
  • Officials with East St. Louis and Des Plains
  • Fantasy sports operators
  • Representatives from: GeoComply, iDEA Growth, Spectrum Gaming, Gaming Laboratories International
  • Professional sports leagues
  • Anita Bedell – Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems

Legislative expectations in Illinois

It has been quite the journey for Senate Bill 7, which has been kicking around since early 2017. Introduced by Rita, the legislation has morphed into a massive gambling expansion bill akin to a 2017 law passed in Pennsylvania.

SB 7 was referred to the Rules Committee in May.

In August, lawmakers gathered in Chicago to hear testimony from gambling stakeholders on an amendment to SB 7. Amendment 3 focused on substantial tax breaks for casinos and slots/table games at the states three racetracks.

What remains to be known is if a gambling expansion bill is something lawmakers want to push through following the November elections.

All signs all point to yes. But with a large turnover expected in the state legislature and possibly a new governor, the idea remains up in the air.

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Future of gambling in IL

The US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act has put the topic of gambling expansion at the doorstep of several states across the country.

Midwest states including neighboring Indiana, Iowa and Missouri all plan on discussing and possibly passing sports betting legislation in 2019.

In a statement, Rita said gaming expansion presents a number of opportunities including, new streams of revenue, job creation and economic growth for the state.

“The gaming landscape has changed significantly,” Rita said. “I want to use these hearings to understand how those changes present new opportunities for us to put the right package together as we look to meet budget needs and provide a spark for our economy.”

Jim Ryan, CEO of Pala Interactive and a member of the nonprofit iDEA Growth, submitted a letter this week calling on lawmakers to not overlook the economic benefits of gambling expansion.

Ryan wrote mobile wagering is “the future of the industry” and sports wagering is already taking place on “unregulated platforms.”

“Illinois needs to make it legal and regulated. Voting for anything less is a lost opportunity for the state’s economy,” Ryan wrote.

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Nicholaus Garcia
- Nick comes from West Texas where he graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in psychology. After a five year stint in Chicago where he wrote about local politics and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C. to write about issues related to gambling policy, sports betting and responsible gaming.