The pace of sports betting bill introductions in state assemblies has quickened from bass to snare drum with Illinois joining in on Tuesday night. Illinois Senate President Pro Tempore Don Harmon (D-39th district) filed SB2478, dubbed the Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act, basically outlining the state of sports betting in the United States to get the ball rolling.
SB2478 follows the unveiling of bills in Massachusetts, West Virginia, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa over the course of this week alone. Plus there’s ongoing discussions/hearings in Indiana and New York that directly involve the National Basketball Association, which is a major development. Harmon’s bill actually follows Democratic state Representative Lou Lang’s mid-January conversation-starting House Bill 4214, dubbed the “Legalization and Regulation of Sports Betting Act.”
SB 2748 leaves a lot to the imagination, or more precisely, committee hearings and discussions with stakeholders. And there are some major stakeholders in Illinois’ gaming market.
Illinois Senator Don Harmon Introduces SB2478 to Move State Toward Legal Sports Betting Online and in Land-Based Casinos; Major Stakeholders Involved
Take a look at the bill’s opener, which covers about all you need to know at this point (plus what follows here):
The bill goes on to explain the status of the Supreme Court Sports Betting Case, aka Christie v. NCAA, in which New Jersey is battling the NCAA, NFL and other major professional sports leagues over the constitutionality of the 1992 federal law PASPA, which bans full-fledged sports betting everywhere outside Nevada. The high court heard oral argument in December 2017, with a decision forthcoming this spring and a prevailing sentiment (and predictions) that the court will strike PASPA. Hence the drumbeat.
There are currently 10 commercial casinos (riverboats included) in Illinois, a pair of them — Harrah’s Joliet and Harrah’s Metropolis — owned by Caesars Entertainment. MGM’s has the Grand Victoria Casino Elgin, Penn National Gaming owns and operates Hollywood Casinos in Aurora and Joliet, and Boyd Gaming has Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino on the Illinois River.
The bill shows a clear focus on the mobile/online component for sports betting. That’s the future of sports betting. With major Nevada-based entities like MGM and Caesars there, it seems likely that the state would grant them sports betting licenses to open sportsbooks on land and through them on mobile, but the bill at this point leaves open the possibility of other tech companies, like DraftKings, getting involved.
It’s also unclear at this point which state agency would draft the rules and regulations for licensees; also there’s no tax rate mentioned in here, and bless their hearts, no 1% “integrity fee” benefiting the NBA and other leagues.
What is clear is that the bill would allow wagering on professional and collegiate sports and that there’s a strong desire to get Illinois positioned if the Supreme Court axes PASPA.