Illinois iGaming Efforts Fading Fast

by Kyle Miller

IllinoisThe possibility of online gaming coming to Illinois is fading fast as legislators have met on the subject without any movement of legislation.

In the United States, 2017 has seen several individual states begin to consider expanding into the world of online gambling in some form or fashion. Some states want to become involved in online poker gaming while others wish to offer casino and poker together. Others are focused on daily fantasy sports or lottery ticket sales online. Either way, states are moving forward and trying to be progressive with online game play.

One state in the mix is Illinois. It was surprising to watch as legislators of the state decided to pass a bill within the senate that would allow for online casino and poker gaming along with daily fantasy sports. Industry analysts were not prepared for Illinois to be in the mix. However, it seems that efforts to fully pass the legislation could die away if lawmakers do not take action within the next few weeks.

Missing Opportunities

To begin, the state Senate passed the bill involving online gaming and DFS on the last day of May. This left an entire month in which the legislature could move the bill forward in the House and then on to the desk of Governor Bruce Rauner. However, it seems the bill has stalled. The House Executive Committee planned a meeting for this past Saturday where the issue was to be discussed. The meeting was then rescheduled for Tuesday then again for yesterday.

The meeting did take place on Wednesday but there was no vote or debate on the matter. Essentially, the bill seems to have stalled with little time left to discuss the option. During the hearing, Poker Players Alliance Executive John Pappas was on hand to testify. However, after the hearing, he took to Twitter like he always does to update the public and basically said the ‘wheels have come off’ and that regrouping is taking place to try again in a few weeks.

What Now?

Legislators now have only until Friday to create a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. It seems the governor may decide to extend the session so that legislators will provide him with a bill that he will sign. The state has already been two fiscal years without a budget and ratings agencies are currently looking to downgrade the debt of the state to junk status if the latest issues are not resolved.

The finances of Illinois are in such a state that the lottery has decided they will be suspending ticket sales of the PowerBall as of last night with the MegaMillions tickets to go off-sale by Friday. Officials of the lottery are warning that two multi-state lotteries could drop the state based on their uncertain future and their inability to be reliable.

The same thing happened two years ago when the lottery stopped paying out jackpot prizes of more than $25,000 and players began to file lawsuits. Ticket sales dropped tremendously at this time and the state was short of their much-needed revenues.

With the bill passed by the senate, online gambling efforts would bring in much-needed funds. The gambling license fees for online operators would be set at $10 million and this amount would be credited towards future tax payments. This would give an instant boost to the money needed in the state. The budget currently has a deficit of $6 billion. So, we shall see if legislators move the bill forward and become the next state to offer online gaming or if we shall see a state fail yet again when it comes to passing online gaming legislation.