Online Casinos a Focus in Illinois
The Illinois sports betting industry continues to produce big handle and revenue numbers, and it has lawmakers looking to add new iGaming options.
Illinois is also looking at the success that Michigan has had in launching online casinos, and most believe that it could do even better.
There is currently a bill in the Rules Committee that would add both online casino sites in Illinois and online poker to the Internet Gaming Act. HB 3142 has not had much action taken since being introduced on February 19, but it is expected to be a point of discussion in the coming weeks.
Michigan is the latest state to legalize online casino gaming, and there are now just six states in the US with this type of gambling. Other states have attempted to pass a bill to make iGaming legal, but Illinois is in a great position to be one of the next to join.
The Michigan iGaming revenue for March 2021 was $95.1 million, and that was just the second full month for the industry. Michigan could be looking at more than $1.5 billion in annual revenue from iGaming, and Illinois could post even bigger numbers.
Illinois has an adult population that is nearly 25 percent larger than Michigan, and it also has the city of Chicago that would help boost numbers. The Land of Lincoln has proven to have a much bigger sports betting market, and the same would be true with online casino gaming.
Representative Daniel Didech is one of the biggest supporters of HB 3142, and he is hoping to gain support by highlighting the amount of money that can be made. Illinois has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and any new revenue sources would be welcomed.
Potential Changes to Sports Betting
Despite a strong showing from online sportsbooks in recent months, lawmakers are still hoping to make some changes to help the industry grow. The registration requirements and restrictions on college sports wagering are at the top of the list.
The initial sports betting rules required in-person registration for at least 18 months after the first bet was placed. This kept the online industry extremely quiet until Governor J.B. Pritzker intervened last June.
Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-41, which allowed for remote registration for new sports bettors. That order was extended several times before it finally went away in April.
Now, lawmakers are hoping to pass a new law that would put the remote registration option back in effect permanently. Nevada is the only other state that has an in-person registration requirement in place, and that state has seen limited growth with mobile betting.
Another change that could be coming to Illinois sports betting is that bettors might soon be able to place wagers on in-state college teams. That is currently illegal with the original sports betting rules, but it is holding the state back.
Representative Michael Zalewski is leading that charge, and it does appear that there is enough momentum to get something done in the future.
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