Illinois to consider Gambling Expansion

by Jim Hall

Illinois Gambling ExpansionWhile the state of Illinois will be considering expanding their gambling options, iGaming does not appear to be in the mix.

2017 has started off with a bang when it comes to states showing interest in online gambling. Hawaii just recently announced a push for online poker while Pennsylvania is looking into online poker, casino gaming and sports betting. Other states continue their quest to create legislation that would allow for some form of gaming be it starting out in land based casino operation or online gaming. Illinois is one state showing promise for a gambling expansion though it seems iGaming will not be included.

New Gambling Bill

Reportedly, a new gambling bill has been introduced in the state with GamblingCompliance reporting that the bill does not have language referring to online gaming. Currently, the state is suffering from a budget issue as the Democratic controlled house and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner seem to be having issues. The battle for the budget has been ongoing for almost two years now with the state starting the year without a budget. Expanding the gambling industry would certainly help matters.

For lawmakers, they must now look at several bills to see if anything can help with the budget issues. A package of 13 bills have been introduce with gambling legislation in the mix. The plan for expansion would include creating a land based casino in the area of Chicago as well as adding riverboat gaming in several areas of the state including Rockford, Danville, Lake County, Williamson County and more. Horse racing tracks would be provided the ability to offer slot gaming at Collinsville, Cicero and Arlington Heights.

However, the gambling portion of the bills package is pretty controversial. Many do not want to see an expansion of the casino industry as they feel it is already saturated. With new casino licenses, revenues would be cannibalized from the existing gaming venues. This is a point that many make when opposed to an expansion of gaming in a state.

No Online Gambling

One would assume that online gambling would be in the mix when considering an expansion of gaming in the state. However, Rauner has never been a fan of online action and has been opposed to the activity for some time. The state is actually considered an underdog when it comes to passing legislation in regards to the activity especially when compared to other states.

Yet there are those who are in favor of online gaming in the state. The proponents see that the activity would be able to create much-needed revenues for the state especially during this budget crisis. The option would be complementary to land-based gaming venues, providing an additional revenue stream. Customers could be activated into taking part without hurting existing casinos revenues.

Rush Street Gaming, a casino operator of the state via the Rivers Casino, has already shown interest in offering online gaming. The company operates the casino just outside of Chicago and already operates an online gaming site in the state of New Jersey. Rush Street owns the SugarHouse Casino in Pennsylvania and set a deal with an operator in New Jersey to be able to gain licensing to offer online gaming. The company already has online gaming experience and could easily use the Rivers venue to launch an online casino gaming site.

Another area of gaming expansion being considered is daily fantasy sports. Lawmakers tried to pass legislation last year but the casino lobby pushed back not wanting to see the activity legalized.

For now, it seems Illinois has a lot to consider and in some way, gambling could be expanding in the state is legislation is approved.