Illinois is one of the few US states that haven’t ostracized gambling altogether. It has always adopted a relatively open approach to gambling. Ironically, the state has never given rise to a fully legalized and regulated gambling industry.
Could the democrats change fate?
Last November, the state elected a Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker with a democrat-controlled House and Senate. The shift from a republican to democratic policy is a much-needed change for a state that is suffering from huge budget deficits. The government may now want to increase the scope of land-based gambling to help rake up some revenue. It may even think about introducing online gambling to the state, though the ‘when’ and ‘how’ of this event remains uncertain.
At least five different forms of gambling are currently allowed in the state, including the state lottery, charitable gambling, riverboat gambling, horse racing, and video lottery terminals. Land-based gaming could be the state’s go-to plan for increasing revenue given the filing of SB 690 in the Senate in January this year. The bill was fast-tracked through the process and passed in May. It was later amended and passed by both the House and the Senate in June and signed into law by Gov. Pritzker.
The bill makes leeway for a Chicago casino with 4,000 gaming positions, including both blackjack and slot machines. The casino offering has become a point of contention because of taxation, and a report by Union Gaming Analytics has affirmed the same. New casino licenses for Rockford, Williamson County, Danville, south suburbs and Waukegan have been granted for smaller establishments. After the Gaming Board receives applications for the same, it would take at least a year to decide whom to approve.
What about sports betting?
The bill will also make room for sportsbooks in all major sports venues, horse tracks, and casinos, given a special license from the Gaming Board. The bill also tackles the issue of online sports betting. Given the state of the government’s budget and the growing competition between states to create favorable gambling legislation, it is essential for Illinois to pay heed to this sector.
The new bill suggests that parties that receive licenses for operating land-based sports betting will also be able to provide an online betting facility. Interestingly, all bettors will be expected to register themselves at physical locations to start using online sports betting offerings. The state may also approve three licenses for an online-only sportsbook, but it hasn’t decided a timeline for it yet.