The Illinois State Senate quietly passed a bill this week that both regulates daily fantasy sports (DFS) and legalizes online gambling throughout the Land of Lincoln. But online gambling is still a very long ways from becoming a legal reality in Illinois.
Observers of Illinois politics were stunned by the fact that the bill (HB 479) included anything at all about online gambling, as that was never really discussed as part of the DFS plan.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Senator Kwame Raoul explained the last minute addition of online gambling saying:
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. 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.
The key phrase in Raoul’s words, it turns out, are the words, “existing casinos.” Illinois casinos have been quite worried about the impact that regulated DFS could have on their businesses. It’s their belief, one that is apparently shared by lawmakers, that access to online gambling is their only option for combating revenue loss from the onslaught of DFS. (Whether this assertion is true or not could definitely be debated.)
In order for regulated online gambling to become a reality in Illinois, HB 479 would not only need to pass in the Illinois House of Representatives, it would also have to beat out two other gambling bills (only one of which includes online gambling regulation).
In short, Illinois residents are still a long way from regulated online gambling.