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Illinois to Hold Hearings for Online Gambling, Sports Betting

The State of Illinois has not yet legalized sports betting and online gambling, but groups in favor of gaming plan to change that.

Representative Robert Rita will head two subcommittees from the Illinois House of Representatives to discuss economic opportunities presented by a possible gaming expansion in the state. Both the subcommittee on Gaming and subcommittee on Sales and Other Taxes will meet on August 22 and October 3 this year to discuss gambling-related topics, including fantasy sports, sports betting, and online gaming, among others.

The ultimate goal of the meeting is to produce a more satisfactory gambling bill, which many expect to be presented only after the midterm elections in November later this year.

Rep. Rita said:

“As I have said from the beginning in working on this issue, gaming expansion presents many tremendous opportunities to create revenue, jobs and economic growth in Illinois. The gaming landscape has changed significantly since I took on this issue five years ago, and I want to use these hearings to understand how those changes present new opportunities for us to put the right package together as we look to meet budget needs and provide a spark for our economy.”

Many considered Rita as the local leader concerning gaming issues in the state. The Democrat proposed several gambling bills, most recently the Senate Bill 7. The mentioned bill will be one of the main points of discussion for both the scheduled meetings.

The Senate Bill 7

Introduced in 2017, the Senate Bill 7 or the Chicago Casino Development Authority Act aims to make changes to horse racing, riverboat gambling, and casino-related laws in Illinois. It argued that casino gaming and betting will open another avenue for money to flow into the state.

The current Illinois casino industry reportedly gives US$1.4 billion in taxes every year to the state. According to Rita, the state government would receive an additional US$700 million in tax revenue should it legalize online gambling.

The Act proposed to pass the gambling regulatory powers to the Illinois Gaming Board. This move hopes to win the public’s trust in the would-be expanded gambling scene by having an operating regulator overseeing casinos and other related establishments.

The Senate Bill 7 stated:

“This Act is intended to benefit the people of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois by assisting economic development and promoting tourism and by increasing the amount of revenues available to the City and the State to assist and support the City’s pension obligation.”

Senator Terry Link filed the Senate Bill 7 in January 2017. Only five months later, the Act passed the Senate’s third reading and was passed onto the House.

The first reading of the House saw many changes added onto the Act. However, the Act lost the important vote after twelve months. The House’s Executive Committee voted to pass the amended act 4-5, one vote shy from overcoming this hurdle.

While the proposed Act does not have provisions regarding either online gambling or sports betting, Rep. Rita expects that those sectors would be addressed in the meetings scheduled for the next two months.

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