Illinois Online Gambling Plans Postponed For NowApril 4, 2014 4:31 pm
In spite of a serious state budget shortfall expected to reach $1.5 billion next year, the Midwestern state of Illinois has decided to put plans for legalised online gambling on hold until it can resolve a pressing land-based casino expansion issue.
Currently, The Prairie State has 10 river boat casinos which contribute around $10 million in gambling taxes each month. The state legislator, however, is determined to have another one to five land-based casinos added to its gambling industry, and currently is trying to build consensus for the new proposals amongst the disparate interested parties. Nevertheless, progress thus far has been far from smooth leading Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to announce:
“I think, though, that we cannot take that issue [igaming] up until we resolve whether or not we’re going to have new casinos in Illinois and that again is very difficult to predict. Problem is, there’s so many different interests. There’s a bunch of folks that don’t believe in gaming, there’s casino interests, there’s horse racing interests, and it’s very hard to thread the needle on that bill.”
The Senate President has already exerted great efforts trying to lobby for Illinois internet gambling and in February held a hearing attended by Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas, in which he asserted that if Illinois residents were continuing to play on unlicensed, offshore sites, then regulation would simply mean “corralling” the current grey marketplace. With 12.88 million people, Illinois is the 5th most populated state in the US and industry experts have estimated a regulated Illinois online gambling industry could generate between $200 million and $500 million in revenues each year.
However, certain gambling interest groups concerned about a land-based casino expansion drive have also voiced concerns that online gambling could also eat away at their profits. Needless to say a lot of hard negotiations lie ahead before Illinois Senate President John Cullerton gets another opportunity to introduce an online gambling bill to the legislature once more. As Cullerton, explains:
“There’s a lot of complications about how it affects the existing gaming industry. That seems to be where the hang up might be right now. Whenever you have a gaming bill, the other people who are in the gambling industry, whether it be horse racing or existing casinos, they want to be at the table.”