Illinois Online Casino Proposed With Two New Bills in Legislature

Illinois Online Casino Proposed With Two New Bills in Legislature
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Two companion bills were introduced in the Illinois legislature Wednesday that would legalize still another form of gambling in the state.

The bills, one introduced in the state Senate and the other in the state House, would legalize Illinois online casinos, often referred to as iGaming or iCasino.

The bills, if they became law, would likely legalize casino-style games, such as slots and table games. Customers would be able to access these games on personal computers and mobile devices, such as tablets and smart phones.

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What Illinois Online Casino Would Entail

Illinois already has traditional casinos with one planned for Chicago. Retail and online Illinois sports betting launched in 2020. And there’s widespread distribution of video lottery terminals (VLTs) — which are gambling devices similar to slot machines — in convenience stores and truck stops.

The new gambling proposals for iGaming were introduced by Democratic state Sen. Cristina Castro from Elgin and Democratic state Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. from Chicago.

Both pieces of legislation — HB2239, introduced by Gonzalez, and SB1656 from Sen. Castro — are identical in language. They would authorize an “Internet gaming operator to offer Internet gaming in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Provides that Internet gaming shall only be offered by an Internet gaming license or an Internet management services provider that has contracted with an Internet gaming licensee. Provides that an Internet gaming licensee shall offer no more than (three) individually branded Internet gaming skins.”

The tax on gaming operators would be 15%. Many sports betting operators, such as BetMGM Sportsbook Illinois, also offer online casino games in other jurisdictions and would be in good position to enter that portion of the market in The Land of Lincoln.

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Process Just Beginning for Illinois iGaming Bills

As far as the progress of the new bills, the one in the House was simply filed on Feb. 8, according to the Illinois General Assembly website. SB 1656 had a first reading and was referred to Assignments on Wednesday.

The introduction of iCasino legislation in Illinois is obviously just the first step on the road to legalization of online slots and table games.

Even those in the gambling industry concede iCasino generally faces more resistance in state legislatures than sports gambling proposals do, even though online gambling would be a logical next step in Illinois considering the state's history.

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Online Casino Often Difficult Fight To Win

More than 30 jurisdictions have approved sports gambling, with many of them adopting internet sports wagering. But iCasino — which usually generates far more revenue for operators and taxes for the states than sports betting alone — is legal in just six U.S. states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Delaware, West Virginia and Connecticut.

Nevada has internet peer-to-peer poker but not online slots or online casino table games.

Illinois has 11 brick-and-mortar casinos, including four near Chicago. But a Chicago casino project from Bally’s would be the first such facility within The Windy City itself. Bally’s gained approval for the $1.7 billion project, at W. Chicago Avenue and Halstead Street.

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Author

Bill Ordine covers state gambling issues for IllinoisBet.com. He was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years.

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