Illinois Senate Releases Internet Gaming Report
The Illinois Senate was tasked with creating a report outlining how much money the state could have generated by having online casino gambling in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was done to highlight the potential for online casino gambling in an effort to legalize and launch this industry.
The figures from this report begin on February 28, 2020, and cover the next 16 months. Nearly all of the casinos in Illinois were shut down for a large portion of this time or had strict COVID-19 restrictions in place.
According to the report that was recently released, Illinois could have generated between $622 million and $1.2 billion. These numbers are clearly estimates, but Illinois could have made a huge amount of money during the COVID-19 pandemic if this was an option.
Illinois online sports betting has gone extremely well in Illinois, but the state only generated close to $53 million since it was launched. Based on the potential flat tax rates that would be imposed, that number could be nearly quadrupled with online casino gambling.
The Commission on Forecasting and Accountability was the main author of this report, and it took a close look at other states with online casino gambling. Illinois also has the most video gaming terminals (VGTs) in the US, and statistics from that form of gambling contributed to the estimates.
There are currently more than 40,000 VGTs in Illinois, and they can be found at a variety of businesses throughout the state. These machines bring in substantial tax revenue for the state, but they also provide a revenue stream for businesses.
Any attempt to legalize online casino gambling would come with a fight from the owners of VGTs, and that could delay the process. If online casinos were legal in the state, it is very likely that these machines would almost become non-existent in many parts of the state.
No Online Casinos in 2022
There was an attempt to legalize online casino gambling in Illinois in 2021, but those efforts came to an end quickly. Bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate, but there was just too much opposition to make this a reality.
This report should give lawmakers some added ammunition when they look to introduce bills again, but that is not going to happen in 2022. The next realistic chance to legalize online casino gambling won’t come until 2023, but that could be the year that something gets done.
The House of Representatives held an executive committee meeting in April of 2021, and online casino gambling was a big topic at that meeting. Those conversations could help pave the way for a much more comprehensive bill in 2023.
Illinois is no stranger to gaming expansion, and it could become one of the biggest gambling markets in the US if online casinos are legal. The Land of Lincoln has become the second-largest sports betting market in the US, and it has done so in just over a year.
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