You might think that the recent veto by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn regarding expanding brick-and-mortar gambling in his state would mean bad things for the future of Internet gambling in the Prairie State. But state Senator Terry Link did not let that decision dissuade him from proposing a bill that would call for statewide legalization of online gambling in Illinois. The bill is titled the Chicago Casino Development Authority Act, but it extends well past the Windy City.
Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have all passed legalized online gambling bills since the US Department of Justice decided that each state should have a say-so regarding whether or not Internet gambling is allowable for its residents and travelers. The Link bill would mean the creation of the Division of Internet Gaming in Illinois, which would be a sub-department of the existing Illinois Lottery. While the DOJ ruling allows for individual states to offer any type of online gambling, this particular bill would allow for online poker and traditional online casino games.
The Illinois Lottery would handle licensing, and that ruling body would also have the ability to allow other entities and corporations to offer online poker and online casino gambling in Illinois per their approval. Current state laws and federal laws specifically forbid a US company from offering online sports gambling, but the Chicago Casino bill would allow for future legalization of online sports gambling if and when federal and state authorities give it their blessing. The initial group of licenses will be available to any company currently affiliated with a licensed brick-and-mortar Illinois casino.
This includes gaming suppliers and operators, and will eventually expand to offer Internet gambling licensing to any company who can pay the $250,000 application fee and pass a vetting process. Any firm that already possesses an Advanced Depositing License for the state’s off-track betting industry could also apply for the initial round of licenses, as could any physical gaming device provider for bars and taverns in Illinois. Licenses would have to be paid for a five-year contract with possible five-year renewals, and a hefty $20 million licensing fee would be required by all potential license holders, which would be a down payment against future tax liability.
Just before the bill was proposed, it was amended to only exclude companies that have been convicted of violating US online gambling laws. Wording for this provision is rather liberal, allowing the state’s lottery regulatory body to interpret its language however they see fit. The proposed bill effectively covers players caught cheating and companies offering a less than above board process, and several responsible gaming provisions have been included. Check back frequently for bill progress and Illinois online gambling updates.