Illinois Rep. Rita Files Bill To Legalize Internet Casino Gaming

State Rep. Bob Rita, one of the primary drivers of legislation that helped legalize sports betting in Illinois, has turned his attention to bringing internet casino gaming to the Land of Lincoln.

Rita filed HB 3142 on Thursday, which would allow “a casino or racetrack to offer Internet gaming or contract with a platform to offer Internet gaming,” and an Internet gaming licensee would be allowed to offer up to three individually branded Internet skins.

There is an in-person registration provision during the first six months of operation, after which patrons could then set up their accounts online. The bill specifies there is no language preventing bettors from combining a sports wagering account with an internet gaming account.

Rita is proposing a tax rate of 12% on adjusted gross gaming revenue, and the bill also specifies that “No local government of this State, including home rule municipalities, may impose or levy taxes on adjusted gross gaming revenue.” Sports betting in Illinois is taxed at 15% of adjusted gross gaming revenue, and Cook County — home to Chicago — has a “home rule” tax of 2% on revenue generated on wagers made within the county.

Sports betting, which was legalized in June 2019 as part of a massive gaming expansion signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker, has generated more than $125 million in operator revenue and nearly $19 million in taxes for Illinois since launching in March 2020.

Multistate poker a possibility

Rita appears to be angling Illinois for multi-state liquidity sharing, which makes poker a possible offering. There is a section devoted to accepting out-of-state wagers in the bill, and Rita tasks the Illinois Gaming Board with making the determination whether “out-of-state wagering is not inconsistent with federal law or the law of the jurisdiction in which the person is located or if out-of-state wagering is conducted pursuant to a reciprocal agreement to which this State is a party that is not inconsistent with federal law.”

The bill also authorizes that the IGB “may enter into agreements with other jurisdictions to facilitate, administer and regulate multijurisdictional approved Internet games, including, but not limited to, poker.”

The proposed internet gaming license fee is $500,000 and “valid for the same period of time as the requester’s owner license or organizational license and for the same period of time as the owners license or organization license.” The proposed renewal fee is $250,000.

Should Rita’s bill pass, internet casino gaming would be fast-tracked to an extent. HB 3142 calls for the board to adopt emergency rules within 90 days of the effective date of the act. It also calls for the IGB to utilize existing rules under the Illinois Gambling Act and allows the regulatory body to examine rules from other states “and shall implement consistent rules to the greatest extent practicable.”

States that may provide a template for regulating iGaming include New Jersey, foremost, where legal online casinos went live in 2013, as well as Pennsylvania (2019) and recently Michigan, where many of the same gaming companies operating in the Eastern states got the green light to launch an online presence at the end of January.

All money collected would be deposited into the state gaming fund, and $10 million from the tax revenue deposited into that fund would be directed on an annual basis to the Department of Human Services to treat problem gambling.

In neighboring Indiana, a pair of online casino gaming bills failed to clear the committee stage this week, which means they will not be taken up again until next year.

Latest posts