Illinois lawmakers will hold the state’s first hearing on sports betting on Wednesday in Chicago, as the state gears up to put together sports betting legislation for the 2019 session.
Representative Bob Rita (D-District 28), who has been the Democratic point person on Illinois gaming issues for five years, arranged the hearings, which will be before both the Gaming and Sales and Other Taxes House subcommittees.
The goal of the hearings is to bring stakeholders and lawmakers together in order to craft passable legislation for the next session.
City of Chicago, Illinois Horse Tracks and Video Gaming Organizations to Speak at IL Sports Betting Hearing Wednesday.
The expected participants at Wednesday’s hearing represent government, municipalities, horse tracks, video gaming interests and others. A second hearing in October in Springfield will address sports betting, online gaming, fantasy sports.
According to a press release, the following people/groups are expected to speak at Wednesday’s hearing:
- The State Legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability on Senate Bill 7 as amended in the House;
- Rita on his House amendment to Senate Bill 7;
- City of Chicago;
- Rockford, Waukegan, South Suburbs and Danville;
- Horse tracks seeking slots and table games – Fairmount, Hawthorne and Arlington;
- Companies seeking to legalize sweepstakes machines;
- Video gaming organizations – Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association, Illinois Retail Gaming Operators Association, Illinois Licensed Beverage Association; and
- Opponents to Senate Bill 7.
Rita’s SB 7 , which would create a Chicago Gaming Authority, amend the Illinois Lottery law and establish an internet gaming board, was one of several sports betting initiatives in the Illinois state legislature last session. The bill would lay the groundwork for sports betting. Other proposals included Senator Steve Stadelman’s (D-District 34) SB 2478 and Senator Napoleon Harris’ (D-District 15) SB 3432, but neither got out of committee. There has also been much back-and-forth between those lawmakers that want to push forward with sports betting and those who want to take a slower approach.
Some IL Lawmakers Have Been Trying to Legalize Sports Betting for 5 Years, But Have Been Unable to Build a Consensus.
State lawmakers have been trying to legalize sports betting for five years, but there has not be a consensus and no bills have been passed. Illinois currently has 10 live horse racing tracks and 10 commercial casinos, including several owned by national gaming corporations.
The driver behind Illinois’ desire for sports betting is… money.
Illinois reportedly has the lowest credit rating in the U.S. and is $16 billion in debt. While sports betting alone won’t erase that debt, it could be a start.
“As I have said from the beginning in working on this issue, gaming expansion presents many tremendous opportunities to create revenue, jobs and economic growth in Illinois,” Rita said in a July 31 press release. “The gaming landscape has changed significantly since I took on this issue five years ago, and I want to use these hearings to understand how those changes present new opportunities for us to put the right package together as we look to meet budget needs and provide a spark for our economy.”