Online Gambling in Illinois Must Wait

Posted on March 29th, 2014 by Todd Wilkins

Online Gambling Illinois Must WaitIn dire need of an infusion of cash in order to overcome a revenue shortfall, Illinois has bandied about the idea of online gambling legislation.

One month ago, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton bemoaned the fact that Illinoisans are already gambling [online] and we’re not making any of the money. While that certainly holds true, Land of Lincoln residents will apparently continue to patronize offshore gaming sites for the time being because the online gambling issue in Illinois will be put on hold until land-based gambling expansion is solved.

Cullerton, who admitted at a recent press conference that he’s not a fan of gambling, is a fan of raising revenue. But the Democrat said that the brick and mortar gambling expansion proposal has to be tackled first before embracing the Internet. Making his comments during a discussion on the state budget, Cullerton did ease the minds of those hoping to one day legally gamble online in Illinois by stating that it’s [Internet gambling] something that’s going to be here.

Last year, a gambling expansion proposal to add a handful of casinos as well as slot machines at racetracks and airports was introduced in Illinois. But that measure failed to find favor among lawmakers even before the ayes and nays could be counted.

This year, two bills are in the hopper, both of which would bring a casino to the city of Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in favor of a new casino in his city, as he and other state officials are tired of losing revenue to a casino in Hammond, Indiana that is causing a number of Chicagoans to make a run for the border.

Illinois is one of almost a dozen states that are said to be considering online gambling legislation. With a population that ranks fifth in the nation with almost 13 million residents, online poker in Illinois would certainly be viable. So-called experts have estimated that $500 million could land in Illinois state coffers annually through Internet gambling revenue due to the state’s population.

Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey got the online gambling ball rolling last year by launching regimes on an intrastate basis. That is set to change to interstate online poker action perhaps as early as this summer when Delaware and Nevada roll out the country’s first intrastate poker partnership that will combine player pools.

Many expected a domino effect to occur in 2014 with other states following in the footsteps of the three who have igaming schemes up and running. That has not been the case. And according to Cullerton, Illinois can likely be excluded for this year until legislators can first agree on land-based gaming expansion that may include the first casino in downtown Chicago.

Cullerton has backed Internet gambling for two years ever since the DoJ reclarified the Wire Act at the behest of both Illinois and New York. Like many states, another issue concerning state lawmakers is the effect that online gambling may have on Illinois’ existing land-based casinos, as well as any new ones that may be approved.

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