Illinois Introduces Online Casino Bill; Indiana’s Stalls Out
After serving as one of the main proponents of legalized sports betting in Illinois, State Rep. Bob Rita is now pushing to bring online casino gaming to the state.
Rita filed HB3142 on Thursday. The bill would “authorize a casino or racetrack to offer internet gaming or contract with a platform to offer internet gaming, as regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board.” The bill would license casinos and tracks at an initial fee of $500,000 and would permit no more than three individually branded internet gaming skins. The proposed renewal fee would be $250,000.
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For the first six months online wagering is live in Illinois, eligible players would be required to register in-person at a casino or racetrack. Once the six months have elapsed, bettors can sign up online without appearing in person.
The in-person registration requirement in the sports wagering law was for 18 months, but Gov. JB Pritzker has been allowing remote registration because of the coronavirus pandemic. In December, the state posted a record $491.72 million in total sports handle, all mobile because casinos were closed.
Rita’s bill would have a tax rate of 12% imposed and to be deposited into the state’s gaming fund. Certain tax revenue from online casino gaming would be paid to the Department of Human Services for the administration of programs to treat problem gambling, the Pension Stabilization and the Education Assistance Fund.
If passed, HB3142 could be fast-tracked since it calls for the board to adopt emergency rules within 90 days after the effective date of the act. Illinois has already seen the success of sports betting since launching in March 2020. The state has reported more than $125 million in operator revenue and $19 million in taxes to the state since going live.
Illinois can also look at the impact of online casinos in other states that have had success with it, including its midwestern counterpart, Michigan, which went live with its online casino gaming and mobile sports betting platforms on Jan. 22. In its first 10 days, the Michigan Gaming Control Board reported $4.3 million in tax revenue to the state from online casinos.
Indiana Online Casino Bills Will Have To Wait
Indiana didn’t fare well with its attempt of getting a pair of online casino bills passed. Both failed to meet the legislative deadline that was required to pass the committee stage of the process.
State Sen. Jon Ford introduced Senate Bill 417, which aimed to legalize internet gaming in Indiana. It would have permitted Indiana’s 14 casinos and racinos to offer online casino games and online poker. And following the success of mobile sports betting, which saw a handle of $313 million for December, Ford was optimistic the bill could gain traction.
“A large part of that was done online,” Ford said of the sports betting handle. “So, I think you see with sports wagering, you can see there’s clearly a demographic out there that wants to engage in gaming through their mobile phones.”
House Bill 1406 was a companion bill and introduced by Rep. Alan Morrison. The bill would have authorized online casino gaming in Indiana. But with both bills stalling, they will have to wait until next year to reintroduce them.
Ford projected the bills could bring in between $65 million-$80 million in annual tax revenue to the state and aid the casino industry, which was struck by the coronavirus pandemic.
“With our casinos shutting down, it just seems to make sense and make it a good time for digital inclusion to get sped up with COVID,” Ford said. “People are doing more and more digitally than ever before.”
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