A proposal to expand online gambling in Illinois has been tacked onto an existing bill and may be considered by Illinois lawmakers sometime this week.
Just two months ago, Illinois became the first state to sell lottery tickets over the Internet to residents within the state. Land of Lincoln lawmakers will now look at legalizing other games within the online gambling realm by creating a new “Division of Internet Gaming” that will branch off from the Illinois Lottery.
Remember that Illinois is the state that is responsible for last December’s ruling by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that found that the 1961 Wire Act applied only to sports betting. It was the desire of Illinois and New York for clarification on the Act, as both states were interested in selling lottery tickets online, that prompted the DOJ to elucidate the true meaning of the Wire Act. Because of that ruling issued just prior to Christmas, many individual states are now considering online gambling legislation.
Senate President John Cullerton penned a letter to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and other legislators that informed them of his plans to make Illinois the state that “could organize the first major poker pool, garner worldwide popularity, and position itself as a ‘hub’ for multi-state and international iGaming.”
There are several clauses in the bill that would be hard-pressed to win favor with some Illinoians. For instance, existing land-based casinos would not be allowed to participate, but the state’s Lottery Division would be allowed to partner up with providers that have the required technological online gambling experience. Illinois has over a dozen casinos and several horse-racing tracks. It is difficult to envision lawmakers in those districts agreeing to an Internet gambling scheme that does not include their existing brick-and-mortar gambling establishments.
If the gambling proposal were approved in its current form, the estimated additional revenue has been pegged by state officials to be in the ballpark of hundreds of millions of dollars. However, state legislators, as often seems to be the case in politics, are scheduled to adjourn their current legislative session at this month’s end. Realistically, there is expected to be a great deal of opposition and too many details to be ironed out before legislators could possibly even consider approving such a bill.