Illinois Senate Approves Sports Betting, Will Governor Sign the Bill?
The Illinois General Assembly closed out its spring session by voting on a huge gambling expansion that would legalize sports betting. Unlike in the previous four years under Governor Rauner, the general atmosphere showed how the two parties could work without the partisan tensions to easily pass a number of bills including a major public works program, a bevy of motorist-related fees, and the gambling expansion package. The bill was passed on to the Governor’s desk late Wednesday.
The Gambling Bill
The gambling expansion bill would allow for legal sports betting in the state and a mega-casino in Chicago. Both city airports would have slot machines. The bill would also permit smaller casinos in Rockford, Waukegan, Williamson County, Danville, and the south suburbs. Slot machines would be allowed for horse race tracks. Finally, tracks and casinos could host sports betting operations.
As it now stands, those in Illinois who wish to carry out sports betting either cross state lines to go to Indiana and other states with legal sports betting, or they do it online with offshore betting companies. According to Democratic Senate President John Cullerton, this isn’t unusual, so the state may as well regulate it and benefit from it.
Because the Chicago casino would be privately owned, the city would get one-third of all its tax revenue. This casino would have up to 4,000 gambling positions, whether it’s seats at gaming tables or at slot machines. It’s unknown at this point where the casino will be located.
All other current and new casinos could increase the number of their gambling positions from 1,200 to 2,000. Horse tracks would also be permitted to have 1,200 gambling positions.
Licenses for sports gambling would go to all newly-authorized and existing casinos, sports venues, and horse racetracks, with the fees ranging from $3.2 million to $10 million. The tax rate was set at 15%. This is compared to other states’ rates ranging from 6.75% to 51%.
Online sports betting will be allowed, but any bet placed online in the first 18 months will have to be done through a site or app partnered with a brick-and-mortar location. After that, mobile-only operators will be allowed to participate but will have to forge partnerships with an operator already in action in the state. FanDuel and DraftKings aren’t particularly happy with that. DraftKings’
“While it is good to see sports betting bills passed, excluding DraftKings and FanDuel is like passing a ride-sharing bill that excludes Uber and Lyft. Very disappointing that Illinois customers will not have the best options available to them for 18 months.”
It will be illegal for any Illinois licensee to take a bet on any sport involving Illinois schools.
When Will This Take Effect?
We don’t know yet how long it will take to implement once new Governor J.B. Pritzker signs into law. Some hopefuls say it might be available in time for football season, but that might be too optimistic. Nevertheless, proponents of sports betting in the state of Illinois are excited to finally join the growing list of states that have already legalized sports betting.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the federal law that prohibited sports betting outside of Nevada. With this decision, the states became free to draft their own legislation and regulations surrounding the activity.
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