A look back at the Illinois gaming expansion bill two years later
When J.B. Pritzker took office as Governor of Illinois in 2019, one of his biggest moves was signing a gaming expansion bill in June of that year.
It has been two years since the signing of that bill, and the Illinois gaming industry has seen tremendous growth, but there is still more to come.
The biggest part of that bill that has come to fruition is the legalization of sports betting, both retail and mobile. Sports betting officially launched in March 2020 but really started to take off in June of that year.
In just over a year, Illinois became the second-biggest sports betting market in the US when the April 2021 totals were announced. Illinois still trails the state of New Jersey by a wide margin, but it has blown past Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Since sports betting was launched in March 2020, the state has seen over $4 billion wagered on the industry. More importantly, the state has brought in more than $48 million in tax revenue in that span, and that was the biggest reason for the gaming expansion.
In March, Illinois posted a total sports betting handle of $633.6 million, which is still the record to this day. The state has done some things to limit the growth of the industry, such as requiring in-person registration until January 1, 2022.
Operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel were not supposed to gain access into the state until 18 months after launch, but these companies are now the online market leaders. Online betting has made up more than 92 percent of all wagers in the state since the first online sportsbook launched in June.
The second part of the gaming expansion bill approved the building of six new casinos in the state. The city of Chicago was slated to receive one of these new casinos, but that has been a slow-moving process by the Illinois Gaming Board.
It has been two years, and there has yet to be a new casino project even start, but that will be changing soon.
Rockford to Get Newest Casino
The Illinois Gaming Board recently approved plans for the Hard Rock Casino Rockford, and that project is now one step closer to an official license. Rockford was one of the six cities approved for a new casino project, and it should be the first to open up in Illinois.
The plan that was submitted by Hard Rock was deemed “preliminarily suitable” back in February, but no other action was taken until this week. According to the leaders of the project, construction could begin as early as next week.
This will just be a temporary location, and it should be open before the end of 2021. The complete project will take more than two years to complete but should still be the first to open up.
The cost of the permanent casino project is $310 million, and the city of Rockford will receive $7 million from Hard Rock each year. This new project will be located just 20 miles from a new casino being built in Beloit, Wisconsin.
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