Online Poker Bill Swiftly Passed by Illinois Senate

Illinois State Senators wasted no time pushing through legislation regulating online casino gambling and daily fantasy sports, passing HB 479 by a 42-10 vote, Wednesday.

Illinois online gambling bill

Illinois State Senator, Kwame Raoul (D-District-13) is the sponsor of a bill that would make online poker, gambling and Daily Fantasy Sports legal in the state. (Image: Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

It now moves to the House for their consideration and possible approval and should be scrutinized when they reconvene on Thursday.

Under the measure, only existing casinos in the state would be allowed to offer online casino games. Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-District 13), who is sponsoring the bill, told the Chicago Tribune the regulations are needed to curb illegal gambling.

“There was controversy last year as to why are we regulating daily fantasy sports activity, which is ongoing in the state, and not regulating internet gaming, which is also occurring,” he said. “So what this bill attempts to do is also regulate and bring licensure and supervision of internet gaming under the jurisdiction of the Gaming Board. And it would limit the operation of internet gaming to existing casinos.”

Possible Benefits for Live Poker

There are approximately 40 poker tables in establishments and the thought is having online versions available would bolster the sector. If people are playing online that wouldn’t enter a brick and mortar building, they might get the confidence to try playing live.

The market could definitely use any help it can get. For the first three months of this year, the rake was $3.35 million, compared to $3.68 million for the same time last year, a drop of nine percent.

Another benefit would be the state’s ability to regulate registered sites, something they don’t have the capacity to do with illicit operations. Of course they also can’t currently collect any revenues.

The proposed legislation would tax online businesses 10 percent on the first $100 million of annual revenue and at 15 percent on more than $100 million in revenue during the first five years.

Daily Fantasy Sports Included

The difference between this bill and prior attempts is that Daily Fantasy Sports are included. An important addition that lawmakers thought was necessary.

The DFS market is making a comeback after several states banned the contests. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was one of them, finding in 2015 that they violated gambling law.

There is too much money, though, to ignore the game. DFS is expected to generate between $2-$5 million in revenue annually. If approved, it would be taxed 5 percent on the first $1 million in revenue, 7.5 percent on revenue between $1 million and $3 million, 10 percent on revenue between $3 million and 48 million and 15 percent on revenue totaling over $8 million.

Written by
John Reger

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