Indiana, Illinois and the District of Columbia will have hearings on sports betting this week. Both the Indiana and Illinois hearings are informational, ahead of the midterm elections and winter sessions, while the D.C. Council hearing could be the first step in legalizing sports betting before the end of the year.
In Indiana, the Interim Study Committee on Public Policy, chaired by Representative Ben Smaltz (R-District 52) will hear public testimony and have a committee discussion about legal sports betting before issuing a recommendation on the topic on Friday beginning at 12 p.m. ET. The Indiana General Assembly adjourned in March without legalizing sports betting.
Sports betting was definitely a hot topic among some members of the assembly, and in January, Representative Alan Morrison (R-District 42) introduced HB 1325, a sports wagering bill that marked the first appearance of a bill containing several pro leagues’ “Model Legislation” language and a 1 percent “integrity fee” that they’ve been after. The bill died in committee and no additional legislation was introduced before the session closed. On the Senate side, Jon Ford (R-District 38) also introduced legislation, but it, too, died in committee.
Indiana Lawmakers to Consider Sports Betting and Make Recommendation About Whether to Move Forward, While Conversations Advance This Week in Illinois and Washington D.C.
In July, the state did sign a two-year deal with a market analysis firm to investigate the feasibility of legal Indiana sports betting. The goal is for the firm to provide lawmakers with financial and policy information to help them in crafting passable sports betting legislation.
According to statescape.com, Indiana’s 2019 session begins Jan. 14 and runs through April 21. Traditionally, lawmakers have been able to file bills ahead of the session as early as the preceding October.
The Interim Public Policy Committee is bi-partisan and is comprised of seven representative and seven senators, including Ford.
IL to Hold Second Sports Betting Hearing Wednesday
On Wednesday, both Illinois and Washington, D.C.’s City Council will hold sports betting hearings. The Illinois hearing is the second of two put together by Representative Bob Rita (D-District 28). The first hearing, held in Chicago in August was a four-hour affair featuring testimony on gaming in general from stakeholders including municipalities and anti-gambling groups. Wednesday’s hearing, which will be held in the state capital of Springfield, focuses strictly on sports betting, online gaming and fantasy sports.
At the heart of the hearing is Rita’s SB 7, which would create the Chicago Casino Authority, amends the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975, and allows for advance deposit wagering. The bill has been through numerous changes and may or may not be the groundwork for a passable bill.
Several other bills, including Senator Steve Stadelman’s (D-District 34) SB 2478 and Senator Napoleon Harris’ (D-District 15) SB 3432, were introduced this year, but none got out of committee. Illinois finds itself in a unique situation relative to other state legislatures, as it has what’s referred to as a “veto session” next month, and, depending on the outcome of the November elections, a potential lame-duck session at the start of January before the new session opens on Jan. 9.
D.C. City Council Poised to Take First Step to Legal D.C. Sports Betting
In Washington, D.C., the City Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue will consider B22-0944, a bill that “would legalize lotteries, daily numbers games, and bingo and raffles for charitable purposes in the District of Columbia to authorize sports wagering.” Councilman Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who is the chairman of the committee, is also the key bill sponsor. The bill looks to be fast-tracked to get through committee and before the full council for a vote before the end of the year. The bill is comprehensive and covers key details, including tax rate (10 percent), licensing fees ($50,000), and naming a regulatory body. It also appears to have widespread support among the 13 council members.
Should the D.C. Council legalize sports betting, it would be the first in the immediate area to do so — neither Maryland nor Virginia has done so — though Pennsylvania and Delaware to the north and West Virginia to the southwest, all have legalized sports betting. Any new D.C. law is subject to Congressional approval.