Illinois’ recent proposal to bring online poker and gambling to the state was pulled from the legislative agenda by Senate President John Cullerton due to objections from Illinois casinos that were against the Illinois lottery having control over the operation.
HB4148 called for the Illinois Lottery to run a newly-created Division of Internet Gaming, but the Illinois Casino Gaming Association (ICGA) felt that other gambling interests should be allowed to establish their own platforms to run online sites.
“The bill mentioned one platform that would be developed by the state and everybody would have to use that platform,” ICGA executive director Tom Swoik told eGaming Review. Swoik added that having only one division in charge that casinos and other entities must go through does not make for a competitive balance in the industry. He pointed out that if other “companies can develop their own platforms, obviously in compliance within the rules and regulations set by the state, then that would probably be a better type of format.”
There would undoubtedly be some businesses in the state that would not want to develop and create their own platforms who be able to rely on the format of the Illinois Lottery. But the ICGA favors online gambling entities to have their own choice in the matter. An additional point of contention by the ICGA was that the proposed legislation did not mention how much money earned by racetracks and casinos who operated online gambling sites would be earmarked for state coffers as tax revenue. The license fee was fixed at $5 million without outlining tax percentage figures.
“We’re certainly supportive of internet gaming, but there were some concerns that we felt needed to be addressed and we thought there may be some better ways to do the whole thing,” Swoik added.
Illinois’ legislative session concluded May 31 and will resume again in November. The online gambling proposal is sure to be re-visited at that time and would have the support of the ICGA as long as the stated concerns would be addressed. However, the legislation does not have the complete support of Gov. Pat Quinn, who was adamant about addressing other fiscal issues first, such as the pensions of state employees that are a considerable drain on the Prairie State’s budget.