Industry Reports

Illinois Remains Focused on Gambling Expansion to Boost Ailing Budget

The lawmakers in the state of Illinois remain focused on a large gambling expansion as a way to redirect fresh money to the state’s ailing finances.

Last week, a joint hearing of House and Senate committees was held, with more testimony on a gambling expansion bill, under which a total of six new casinos would be added to the gambling landscape of the state. In addition, the new piece of legislation could bring some extra gaming positions at the already existing casinos across Illinois, as well as slot machines at horse racing tracks.

The proposal was given the green light in the state Senate in 2017, but the House has not come to a vote on the proposal.

Previously, the House added an amendment which is to expand the existing number of gambling options in the state even further. As part of the proposal, racetracks will be allowed to offer table games in addition to slot machines. In addition, the number of video gaming terminals (VGTs) for local gambling operators is to be boosted. The same applies to the number of off-track betting parlors.

Apart from that, Illinois lawmakers have demonstrated some interest towards the addition of daily fantasy sports (DFS) and sports betting options following the ruling of the US Supreme Court which lifted the federal ban on sports betting services a few months ago.

Illinois Remains Interested in Legalizing Online Gambling

The possible expansion of the existing gambling landscape in the state of Illinois has been discussed for years. Several bills have even passed, but were vetoed at a later stage, and the desired expansion has never happened.

The truth is that the process of gambling legalization and expansion of the existing gambling market could take years, as proven by the state of Pennsylvania where it took quite a while for the lawmakers to reach an agreement and actually expand the number of gambling options available. According to some experts, Illinois may be on the same path, especially at a time when the state is looking forward to finding the most appropriate forms of gambling which would boost casino revenues and make the state a worthy competition to the neighboring states’ gambling industries.

Apart from the afore-mentioned additions sought to be brought to the gambling sector of Illinois, state lawmakers have made another interesting choice. Most other states which had considered the addition of online poker earlier in 2018 and abandoned the idea, Illinois remained open to it. There is one bill seeking to legalize online poker in the state, with a legislative hearing which could change the status quo set for October.

Now, it is important for local lawmakers to find the right balance for the state’s gambling offerings in order to be able to take advantage of the newly-emerged options for the Illinois gambling sector. Hopefully, the sooner the better, as the expanded gambling market is expected to provide additional funding to the state’s budget.