Gambling Expansion Halted in Illinois

by Jim Hall

IllinoisLegislature in Illinois have finished the 2017 session without moving forward online gambling or daily fantasy sports legislation.

In 2017, several states showed an interest in expanding their gambling industries to include online gaming, lottery, daily fantasy sports and more. Pennsylvania has been the only state to be able to see such legislation pass while others will have to wait until 2018 to see any such gaming options added. Illinois legislature recently finished up their last veto session, without any progress for online casino games, poker or daily fantasy sports legislation to move forward. The state will now have to wait and revive any such efforts next year.

No Movement

Pennsylvania became the fourth state in the US to pass online gambling legislation and was consistently the number one state set to do so. Other states this year showed promise such as New Hampshire, Michigan and more, including Illinois. The state of Illinois had a little time this fall to try and see legislation pushed forward, with veto sessions on the agenda.

The last session was set so that lawmakers could override any bills that had been vetoed by the governor. However, at the same time, pending legislation could also be considered. Some thought that this time frame would be a perfect time to see online casino and poker games, plus daily fantasy sports come to life. However, the session ended with no such progress.

What’s Ahead

Illinois can still come back next year and consider each gaming aspect. Thankfully, the same bills can be considered without having to start over completely. Active legislation will be ready in January in the Senate and House for consideration. It seems the obvious option that could move forward is a bill known as H 479. This bill was passed by the Senate earlier in the year and is currently in the House Rules Committee for consideration.

The bill would have to make it past the committee, then be voted on by the full House, then be approved by Governor Bruce Rauner, before it could be made law. This could be a long drawn out process and not something that happens quickly. However, since Pennsylvania has approved online gaming, it might make other states like Illinois more comfortable in passing legislation offering the same gaming options.

Hopefully, Pennsylvania’s efforts will be a driving force behind Illinois as well as other states to begin legalizing and regulating online gaming. It has been years since Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada began offering online gaming for real money and we have been waiting patiently to see another state join the fray. Now that they have, it could open the floodgates and get the ball rolling for other states to become involved as well.

While the chance of Illinois approving legislation at the beginning of next year are slim, there still is a chance. The bill mentioned above did gain approval by the Senate quickly this year and so the same could happen again when legislature is back in session. The state could certainly use the additional revenues that online gaming would provide via licensing fees and taxes in a variety of ways.

The fact that daily fantasy sports is being considered as well could be a helpful factor. States seem to be keener on passing DFS measures, so tying the two options together could be a smart move. Only time will tell if Illinois or any other state for that matter will be legalizing online gaming once 2018 arrives.