How Do You Like Me Now? Illinois Tries Again with Revised Gaming Bill

Posted on: March 8, 2013, 04:55h. 

Last updated on: March 18, 2013, 06:27h.

It’s like Groundhog Day all over again: following the pattern of New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie, who vetoed his state’s online gambling measure only to flourish his John Hancock on it less than two weeks later, now it’s been only days since Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn shot down his state’s efforts at getting land-based casinos legalized, only to be faced again with a revised bill that now includes online gambling as well.

With Quinn saying his main concerns rested around the potential for corruption by the casino industry, lest they try to sway the otherwise pure intentions of his state’s politicians (almost unimaginable, eh?), those issues have now been addressed in the revised version of SB 1739. The new bill specifically prohibits political contributions from casino execs and gaming licensees (or those seeking them), so no doubt no one will ever be bribed again if this thing goes through.

Online Gambling Provisions Added

What do you do if you can’t get your governor to approve a land-gaming bill? Why, you add all kinds of Internet provisions to it as well, of course. At least, that’s what the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) decided was the way to go. His amended measure not only expands Illinois’ land-based gambling potential, it also brings online gambling into the picture (and with it, the billions of dollars that both Nevada and New Jersey are also aspiring to attain).

The new bill would see the establishment of a Division of Internet Gaming, and would allow any games based on “skill or chance” (that pretty much covers it), with the exception of sports betting (that could change if Federal laws do down the line).  Online gambling licenses would have a five-year window, and just to apply for one, you’ll need $250,000 (non-refundable, natch). But that’s nothing: you’ll need a cool $20 million to put down against future wagering taxes (we sense a lack of trust here). Ten million of the state’s tax intake will be devoted to problem gambling programs (unless the money gets embezzled by a compulsive gambler first). All server technology will need to be located within state lines.

Dramatic License

To get an online gaming license, you’re going to need to already possess a previously issued state license for a casino, electronic gaming facility, or advanced deposit wagering racetrack. But wait, we thought land-based gambling was still illegal in Illinois? This is starting to look like a package deal, isn’t it.

If Link can get a wary Quinn on board this time, Illinois may move to the front of the pack when it comes to intrastate gaming with their population of 13 million that far and away beats even their closest competitor New Jersey, which has 9 million.  Quinn has shown little enthusiasm in the past for land gambling, saying he doesn’t want Chicago in particular to become the “Las Vegas of the Midwest.” No worries there; pretty sure Nevada has no qualms about casino contributions to politicians.