Illinois to Consider Legal Sports Betting and Fantasy Gaming
On Wednesday in Springfield, an Illinois subcommittee of the House will examine if the state should legalize sports and fantasy betting. At this hearing, which is the second held by House subcommittees covering the topic of sports betting, legislators are looking at a plan to allow slot machines at horse racing tracks, more casinos, and sports and fantasy wagering.
Sports Betting in the U.S.
In May, the Supreme Court overturned the 26-year-old federal ban on sports betting that prohibited sports gambling outside of Nevada. This left each state free to pass its own legislation and regulations for sports betting. So far Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, and West Virginia have fully operational sportsbooks and several states have passed legislation and could potentially offer sports gambling operations within the next several months. Pennsylvania will probably do this the soonest; the Hollywood Casino and the Parx Casino won approval from gambling regulators on October 3.
Sports Betting in Illinois
The chairperson of the House Revenue Committee, Representative Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside), said that it makes sense to add sports betting to what is being offered when it comes to the state’s gambling extension. In an article by The State Journal-Register, Zalewski made the following comments:
“It can sort of be the tie that binds the different industries and the bricks and mortar to one unifying approach going forwards. All of these things have the opportunity to bring the stakeholders together and figure out the best path forward.”
An Expansion of Casinos
Casinos already established in Illinois don’t like the idea of more casinos cutting into the gaming market. They’re also opposed to the idea of “racinos,” where gambling devices and slot machines are made available at horse racing tracks.
Cities that don’t have casinos yet, like Danville and Rockford, are in support for the expansion bill because they want the economic boost they will bring in. Horse racing tracks also support the expansion because they say they need the extra revenue from slots and other machines to survive.
Fantasy, Sports, and Internet Gambling Details
The legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability submitted a recent report on wagering that included the topics of fantasy, Internet, and sports betting.
“While it is difficult to predict the revenue potential of these gaming ideas without knowing the final product and its tax structure, each of these formats would create a new revenue source for the State. Of course, with each new format brings more competition for all of the gaming methods to compete for the limited gaming dollar.”
Another issue for lawmakers to consider is whether to allow Internet and mobile gambling in addition to wagers placed at brick-and-mortar locations. In New Jersey during the month of September, online and mobile betting brought in $104 million of the $184 million in sports wagers placed. The total amount of wagers resulted in $24 million dollars in revenue.
Of this topic, Zalewski said:
“If we added mobile, then you would talk about a real opportunity to have revenue affect the state of Illinois.”
The downside, of course, is that the availability of online and mobile wagering will make it easier for problem gamblers. The only difference is that their gambling would be done through proper channels rather than offshore betting sites and through bookies.
The state will also have to discuss the option of paying professional sports leagues to gain access to the official league data. Regarding this point, Rep. Zalewski said:
“There’s a broader conversation going on in the country about what the leagues’ role in these conversations will be. They’ve come forward and said basically you’re going to be using our players, you’re going to be using our stadia, you’re going to be using our product to fund your activity and we’d like to have a place at the table.”
He went on to say that this has never been brought up to Nevada in all the years of sports betting there.
In Chicago, Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Chicago) is proposing to add a one-percent integrity fee to a 12.5 percent state tax on wagers. That one percent would be sent to the professional sports leagues. It remains to be seen if other states plan to do the same.
As of now, all of the states that have already legalized sports betting have firmly rejected the idea of integrity fees. No state has passed any sports betting regulations calling for integrity fees as of yet.
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