October 8, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — In the recent debates over whether or not to legalize online gambling in the U.S. — and whether that should be done on a nationwide level, as Barney Frank’s bill would provide for, or whether it should be done state by state, as a recent movement in California is shooting for — the Midwestern state of Illinois is somewhat quietly preparing its own plans to legalize online horse race betting within its borders.
In fact, a bill goes before the Illinois Racing Board next week, and, if approved, could be implemented the next day.
The decision the board is facing is whether to give three pre-approved companies the go-ahead to offer Illinois residents Internet betting services on horse racing. “If those companies are approved Tuesday, gamblers could use the approved Web sites to wager on horses from the comfort of their own homes as early as Wednesday,” writes Mike Riopell at the Bloomington Pantagraph.
And it sounds fairly likely that the plan could succeed.
"They're ready to go," Mickey Ezzo, a spokesman for the Illinois Racing Board, was quoted in Mr. Riopell’s article. "The infrastructure is all in place" — that's because the betting sites in question are already up and in use, though they're not technically under government regulation and therefore not really legal.
“But earlier this year, lawmakers approved legalizing and regulating online horse betting. When the gambling sites are regulated, the Illinois horse racing industry gets a cut of the bets,” the article continues.
So, approval of the plan would mean that the sites can start advertising and reaching out directly to at-home bettors, and it also means the state could start enforcing against non-licensed websites, of which there are apparently quite a few.
According to the article’s estimates, the plan to formalize online horse race betting could add some $1.5 million in yearly revenue to the state’s pockets. An incentive like that would be hard to pass by.