(Population of 12.88 million as of 2014)
The fifth largest state in the nation currently has 10 riverboat casinos, but in recent years have been considering adding land-based properties and online gambling to the mix. Last year, Sen. Terry Link sponsored Senate Bill 1739, which sought to increase the number of physical gambling locations in the state from 10 to 23 while also offering iGaming options.
According to the bill, online gambling could generate about $150 million a year, and that several land-based gambling offerings could bring in another $400 million to $1 billion. Unfortunately the bill, which ultimately stalled, was stripped of the iGaming components to make it more acceptable to lawmakers.
Earlier this year, the idea of iGaming was revisited when the Illinois Executive Senate Committee met to discuss the pros and cons of online gambling.
“I’ve been supportive of this ever since we found out from the Justice Department we could do this,” said Senate President John Cullerton. “The point is people are already gambling, and we’re not making any of the money. There are other states that are just getting started that are bringing in some money. So that may play a role in it when we try to pass a budget.”
Gov. Pat Quinn has stated that he is open to the idea of gaming expansion, though last year his focus was on a pension reform bill. Now, he turns his attention to a reelection campaign this November, so the gaming issue may have to wait a bit longer.
The good news is that online gaming in Illinois, the first state to offer lottery tickets over the Internet, seems inevitable.
Illinois did introduce a comprehensive gambling bill in 2017, from which online gambling was surprisingly absent, reported Online Poker Report. This could come from state Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has opposed legalizing online gambling in the past. Online gaming is attractive to other proponents in the state who think it could help pull Illinois out of its budget crisis, especially with interest from Rush Street Gaming, the owners of Rivers Casino in Chicago.