Illinois State Rep. Bob Rita has initiated two hearings to discuss online gambling regulation and legalization. The hearings will be held on August 22 and October 3. Rita has been a long-time proponent of legalizing online gambling, and last year sponsored one of a few bills that would legalize online gambling within the state. His bill, and the others, unfortunately, failed to make any real progress, and the issue was shelved until now.
Benefits of Online Gambling in Illinois
The state’s current casino industry generates about $1.4 billion annually, and Rita estimates that legalizing online gambling in Illinois could bring in an additional $700 million in tax revenue. And for a state suffering from a recurring budget deficit, that income could provide significant assistance.
On the Agenda
Rita will likely try to revive a version of his previous bill, SB0007, which included provisions for the creation of a regulating body, land-based casino expansion, and amendments to previous Illinois gambling and horse racing laws.
Also likely to come up on August 22 are the topics of fantasy sports and sports betting. Last year, similar to the online gambling bill, a fantasy sports bill was introduced in Illinois but didn’t go anywhere. And since sports betting was made legal by the Supreme Court earlier this year, it too is another related industry that has the potential to bring in much-needed revenue to the state.
Does Online Gambling Have a Chance in Illinois?
Since the Supreme Court repealed PASPA in May of this year and made it possible for each state to offer individual sports betting, the landscape of online gambling has changed as well. The ability to offer both sports betting and online gambling as a package deal is much more appealing to lawmakers than offering just one or the other, which makes passing regulation more of a possibility.
However, while the two hearings will be held within the next few months, no vote is expected until after midterm elections. Hopefully this will give Rita and other online gambling proponents enough time to create a bill that’s palatable to everyone.