Although Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a gambling expansion bill just a few days ago, a Senate committee approved another bill that calls for new casinos throughout the state, as well as online gambling.
The Illinois Senate Executive Committee voted 10-4 in favor of Senate Bill 1739. Supporters hope to see the bill promptly voted on by the full Senate, but that may not happen until the 555-page document can be further scrutinized. Several members of the committee felt that the bill was acted on too hastily.
“I don’t understand why we are in this big of a hurry to do this,” Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) told the State Journal-Register.
Gov. Quinn certainly won’t be in any hurry. Although his budget address included mentioning that he would consider gambling expansion, Quinn wants to make sure that the state’s pension fund and education programs would greatly benefit. He is also adamant that the legislation meets the highest of ethical standards.
Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) said that SB 1739 addresses some of Quinn’s concerns, such as banning political contributions from companies that hold gaming licenses and reducing the expansion efforts.
Illinois’ proposal includes a bad actor clause that would prevent online sites who have serviced the U.S. in the previous 10 years from participating in license eligibility. That exceeds Nevada’s recently-enacted bad actor provision that forbids companies who catered to Americans after Dec. 31, 2006 from being licensed until 2018. New Jersey removed bad actor language from its bill entirely.
Applicants for online gaming licenses must already be gambling license holders in the state, such as racetracks and casinos. A non-refundable $250,000 fee must accompany each application and a $20 million advance payment will go toward wagering taxes. The duration of each license would be five years. Interstate and international player pool agreements would be allowed, provided that no laws are violated — either state or federal.
Illinois’ population is about 12.8 million, ranking fifth in the U.S. Should the gambling expansion bill in Illinois meet Quinn’s standards, both Nevada and New Jersey would be clamoring to team up with the Land of Lincoln in an interstate online poker scheme.