Illinois to host hearing on online gambling

The recent legalization of sports gambling may lead the state of Illinois to regulating and legalizing sports gambling, online poker and casino games, and daily fantasy sports.

State representative and leader of the Illinois House subcommittees on Gaming, and Sales and Other Taxes Robert Rita announced earlier this month that the state will hold two hearings to discuss the questions surrounding sports gambling, online gambling and daily fantasy sports, as well as expanding the number of brick and mortar casinos in the state.

The first hearing is scheduled for August 22 in Chicago, while the second will take place in Springfield on October 3. No vote on any gambling related matters is expected to take place until after mid-term elections in November.

Online gambling has been on the radar in Illinois for nearly five years, since an amendment to Senate bill 1739 was issued. The amendment called for the regulation of online gambling (including casino games and poker) and an increase in the number of brick and mortar casinos in the state. The bill died on the floor in 2013 and attempts to revive it in 2014, 2015 and 2016 all proved to be unsuccessful.

Also currently in play is Senate bill 0007. Co-sponsored by Rita, the bill originally called for changes to the state’s Horse Racing Act and Riverboat Gambling Act, but has since been amended to also include changes to laws around sports betting, online gambling and daily fantasy sports under the Sports Wagering Act, Internet Gaming Act and Fantasy Sports Contest Act.

Will hearings be next step to online gambling in Illinois?

Illinois has a history of taking steps toward the regulating and legalizing of online gambling only to have those steps lead nowhere. The addition of sports gambling may finally change that. A previous report in the Chicago Sun Times noted that state legislators were looking at following Pennsylvania’s lead by enacting an omnibus gambling bill that would address all online gambling and brick and mortar casinos all at once under a single bill.

The potential revenue that online gambling could bring into the state could also help it finally get over the hump and get the votes it needs to pass. The most recent published revenue projections estimate that Illinois could take in $300 million per year in revenue from online gambling.