Online Gambling Efforts Likely to Continue in Illinois Next Year

by Kyle Miller

Michael ZalewskiOne Illinois lawmaker discusses online gambling for the state, including the possibility of daily fantasy sports.

This year, the state of Illinois was one of several that came close to passing legislation in order to see online gaming legalized and regulated within their borders. Unfortunately, while casino and poker gaming plus daily fantasy sports legislation were considered this year, the bills proposed were not able to make any headway. Representative Michael Zalewski was part of the state’s efforts to pass daily fantasy sports legislation over the past few years as part of the House of Representatives and recently discussed next year and what might come to pass.

Hopeful for 2018

Legislators are hopeful that 2018 will signal the passing of online gaming in the state as well as DFS. According to a recent interview with Zalewski, Online Poker Report has been able to determine that it might be likely that a larger gaming package will be in the works for next year, similar to what Pennsylvania was able to pass just a few weeks ago.

During the interview, the Representative was asked about a gaming expansion bill for next year to include several elements like DFS, poker and casino gaming online. Zalewski was asked if he thought it would be easier to pass a larger gaming package rather than separate bills. In response, Zalewski stated that in the past, the state has seen it difficult to pass gaming legislation due to all the stakeholders involved. Going forward, the Rep believes that there is more private and public pressure to see questions answered based on the concerns from those invested in the industry such as horse racing.

As with other states, it is not uncommon for stakeholders to want to know more about what online gaming would entail and how they would be affected. Many land based gaming venues are often opposed to online gaming as they feel it will affect their bottom line. Players might want to log online more rather than visiting the physical venues which would of course cut down on the revenues earned.

On the plus side, online gaming can be operated by existing stakeholders which could help to combat any losses of revenue. However, if one looks at the industry that already exists in the online gaming realm, such as in New Jersey, you can easily see that online gaming is successful and does not harm the land-based industry. Another positive is that online gaming can bring about instant revenues which will help the state’s budget.

Timeline?

When asked about the progression of legislation for next year regarding an online gaming industry, Zalewski stated that there is much on the calendar during the first few months of 2018. Big ticket items are on the agenda from the very start and there is a democratic primary to consider so he doesn’t necessarily want to put a time frame on when something might be considered. However, the Rep did state that he hopes the spring will be the start of movement for some of these items.

So, for now, it’s a guessing game as to if the state will be able to see legislation come forward next year. It seems that lawmakers are still interested but it may be some time before a bill is actually considered and then there has to be enough support behind it to see movement. Hopefully, with states like Pennsylvania passing legislation this year, it will be a driving factor behind other states like Illinois becoming involved.