Illinois now finds its hat in the online gaming ring after Senate President John Cullerton said Tuesday that the state could, “position itself as a ‘hub’ for multi-state and international iGaming.”

Cullerton submitted an amendment to HB4148 that would create a Division of Internet Gaming. The new division would pave the way for Illinois residents to wager on games of skill and chance online.

The amendment to the bill reads, “In order to protect Illinois residents who wager on games of chance and skill through the Internet, and to capture revenues generated from Internet gaming, it is in the best interest of the State and its citizens to regulate this activity by authorizing and establishing a secure, responsible, fair, and legal system of Internet gaming that complies with the United States Department of Justice’s September 2011 opinion concerning the federal Wire Act.”

The bill is referencing a DOJ opinion on the Wire Act that the law applies only to sports-betting.

Cullerton hopes to pass the iGaming regulation before lawmakers adjourn on May 31st to help Illinois become the first state to offer regulated online poker and casino games. According to the Chicago Tribune, Cullerton wrote in a letter to Governor Pat Quinn, “Certain forms of iGaming, especially poker, rely on large pools of potential players, and states that move swiftly to design a system that captures the widest audience of participants will have an advantage in terms of long-range success.” A spokesman for the governor said he had no position on Cullerton’s proposal.

The proposal would allow anyone 21 years of age or older located within Illinois borders to participate in online gambling. It would also permit the Division of Internet Gaming to enter into agreements with other states to permit their residents access to the regulated Illinois gaming platforms.

With plans to holding a hearing on the bill next week, Illinois joins neighboring Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and others as states giving consideration to legalizing and regulating iGaming in the absence of federal regulation.

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