Illinois state lawmakers didn’t legalize sports betting during the 2018 legislative session, but Representative Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) is doing everything he can to make sure the body is ready for the next session.
Rita announced via press release earlier this week that he will hold two subcommittee hearings involving Illinois sports betting later this year. The first hearing is set for Aug. 22 in Chicago and the second for Oct. 3 in Springfield. The hearings will be held by the subcommittees on Gaming and Sales and Other Taxes of which Rita is the sub-chairperson.
According to the press release, the goal is to cover sports betting, DFS, online casinos, and online poker — and to try to generate some revenue to help right the state’s ailing financial situation.
Representative Looking to Illinois Sports Betting to Help Alleviate State’s Debt.
“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 the 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.”
The driving factor behind legalizing sports betting – and any other new revenue sources in Illinois – is the state’s dreadful finances. The state reportedly has the lowest credit rating in the country and is already $16 billion in debt. It’s unlikely sports betting would solve that problem – a study earlier this year predicts that New York will be largest sports betting market in the U.S. and will net $700 million in annual revenue within the next five years.
Illinois Lawmakers Have Been Trying to Make Illinois Sports Betting and Other Revenue Sources Legal for at Least 5 Years.
Rita has had his hand in sports betting and gaming legislation in Illinois over the long term. Dating back to 2014, Rita attempted to legalize online gaming, but with no success. He tried again in 2016 and 2017. In 2017, he also sponsored a bill recommending that Congress repeal PASPA, and since has sponsored bills relating to advance deposits, video gaming, and the creation of the Chicago Casino Development Authority.
The goal of Rita’s hearings is to educate lawmakers and develop a consensus ahead of the 2019 session. Should legislation come out of the hearings, it would not be voted on until after the state’s November mid-term elections.