Illinois Legislators Will Hold Hearings on Sports Betting

The state of Illinois has some hearings scheduled for the upcoming weeks, where lawmakers will consider the legalization of sports betting, online poker and other casino games. State Representative Bob Rita plans to push for more legal gambling, and will try again to get his gambling expansion bill through legislature. He has hearings scheduled to take place August 22nd and October 3rd before the fall veto session.

The August 22nd meeting will be held at the Bilandic Building in Chicago while the October 3rd meeting will be at the Capitol in Springfield. Legislators will not vote on any proposals until after the elections in November, but he hopes that enough of those involved will gather enough information and agreement in order to bring about a positive vote when it comes time.

The Hearings

Rita expects to take on the issue of online casinos, online poker, daily fantasy sports, and sports betting. In a press release 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 use to put the right package together as we look to meet budget needs and provide a spark for our economy.”

Some concerns that might be raised include how to address over-saturation and existing gambling operations.

With elections looming on the horizon, there are pretty much no politicians willing to wade into the potential mess of the legal gambling issue. It’s much more likely that the soonest Illinois will have legal sports betting is late 2018, or early 2019.

Rep Bob Rita

Robert Rita, Democrat, is a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 28th District since 2002. He has been re-elected four times and went unopposed during the 2008 general election. He heads the House subcommittees on Gaming, and Sales and Other Taxes.

Chicago Sports Betting

The Chicago market for legal sports betting is potentially hugely lucrative for the state. With LA caught up in California’s legislative negotiations, which are sure to take a while, and New York off until at least next summer before they pass legal sports betting laws, Chicago could become the first of the three biggest U.S. cities to legalize sports betting.

Previous Attempted Legislation

Five different proposals popped up early in the spring legislative session, but none of them were successful. Further to that, none of them appeared to work with any of the others. One bill dealt with riverboat casinos and racetracks, one with mobile and online gaming, and one bill had provisions for land-based casinos. With these all having different interests in conflict, none of them made it to the point of imminent passage.

Nearby Gambling

Residents of Illinois spent over $1.5 billion in gambling throughout other states in 2017, which just gives Illinois more reason to get things rolling. State Senator Dave Syverson told the Illinois News Network earlier this year that

“If you go to an Indiana casino, right over the border, you’ll see 95 percent of the license plates are all Illinois plates. Other states are building casinos right on the border of Illinois and they’re marketing and attracting Illinois people that go there and spend their money.”

There’s a possible $400 million tribal casino that will be built just a couple hundred yards over the border in Wisconsin, which will make it the largest casino in the Midwest. It would practically destroy tourism in northern Illinois, because plans are for the casino to have a convention center, waterpark, hotel, and a concert venue.

Potential Revenue

Online casino games in Illinois could bring in as much as $300 million in revenue per year Under last year’s proposal (that didn’t make it through legislature), online gaming would be taxed at a 15 percent rate. That revenue doesn’t even take into consideration the amount that would come in from sports betting.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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