Will Illinois Pass Online Gambling Legislation This Year?

Summary: Lawmakers are currently deliberating online gaming legislation in the state of Illinois. Is the lack of information a good thing when it comes to the potential of the state becoming the next to get started in the online realm?

In 2018, the state of Illinois still has a shot at passing online gambling as well as sport betting legislation. Just this past week, a comprehensive gaming expansion package came one step closer to becoming law after a joint hearing took place within the House of Representatives. Two subcommittees came together to talk about the bill, a subject that has been discussed among lawmakers for around two years now.

In January 2017, SB 7 was first introduced as a casino bill for the Chicago region. The proposal would then later become an omnibus gaming package, offering several ways in which the state can expand upon their gambling industry. Amendments were made by Representative Robert Rita to include online gambling, sports betting and daily fantasy sports, among options being considered.

With little information being provided, it has many wondering if the state will be able to pass a bill before the year’s end. During the hearing, the right questions were being asked to see the bill hopefully move forward. Part of the discussions included lawmakers understanding the topic at hand, focusing on the best practices and policies that would work in the state, instead of just focusing on theoretical ideas.

Omnibus is the Right Approach

IllinoisIllinois lawmakers are taking a page out of the book first used by Pennsylvania when it comes to pushing for an omnibus gaming package. Pennsylvania was able to pass such legislation last year, paving the way for several changes within their gambling industry. The state is set to offer online casino and poker gaming, build satellite casinos, and add gaming in other areas.

In Illinois, an omnibus bill is on the table. However, during the recent hearing, online poker and casino gaming were discussed very little. During the opening remarks of the hearing, Representative Lou Lang stated that online gaming and daily fantasy sports are vetted well in the state. Now, it seems that lawmakers are shifting their focus to sports betting, as other states are doing as well.

During the hearing, several witnesses as well as legislators spoke, talking about several aspects of expansion within the gaming industry along by way of one bill, which makes sense. Sports betting, casino and poker games, as well as DFS all would take place online, if the state is going to be successful. Jim Ryan, the CEO of Pala Interactive, stated during the hearing that 50% of online gaming revenue will come from sports betting and only legalizing sports betting would do half the job.

Players want to be able to play online, particularly with mobile devices. Gamers are set on being able to play from wherever they are, be it at home, at work or on the go. With online capabilities, the state will be much more successful with their endeavors in the sports betting industry as well as within any other realm of gaming they hope to add to the region.

It will be interesting to watch as the year comes to an end, if the state moves forward with proposed legislation and if online gaming will become a reality in the state. Only time will tell if Illinois will become the next to offer online casino, poker and/or sports betting options.