Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday heard plenty during a four-plus hour hearing in Chicago about legalizing gaming in the state. Speakers at the meeting ranged from those representing municipalities, including the city of Chicago, to those opposed to gaming altogether to video gaming interests and casinos.
While sports betting was not a key part of the agenda, at least one speaker noted his company’s interest and referred to a second hearing, set for October. Wednesday’s hearing before the members of both the Gaming and Sales and Other Taxes House subcommittees, was arranged by Representative Bob Rita (D-District 28), who has been carrying the sports betting torch in Illinois for more than five years.
Though the hearing didn’t focus on sports betting, it was an opportunity to begin to lay the groundwork and understand what all interested parties are thinking. A second hearing, scheduled for Oct. 22 in the state capitol of Springfield, will focus on sports betting, online gaming and fantasy sports.
October Hearing Will Focus on IL Sports Betting, Online Gaming and Fantasy Sports.
On Wednesday, lawmakers heard all manner of testimony, ranging from several municipalities that are in support of gaming to a sweepstakes company that gave a detailed explanation of how that business works. In addition, the panel was admonished by several opposed to gaming, including one woman who told the group that the legislature “should not be in the business of making more money,” but rather should focus on creating a “just” society.
The net result was more information for the panel to begin anew the process of legalizing sports betting and other gaming in Illinois.
From here, the next step is that second hearing, after which lawmakers will likely begin crafting legislation that aims to satisfy as many interested parties as possible. When sports betting – or other gaming, for that matter – may get to the House or Senate floors remains a question. The earliest opportunity would be in November, after the gubernatorial election, during what is referred to as a “veto session.” The two-week session is used to consider vetoed legislation, as well as pending issues.
SB 7, Introduced During the 2018 Regular Session, Could Be Considered Again as Early as November, or Scrapped in Favor of a New IL Sports Betting Bill in 2019.
Rita introduced SB 7, a bill that would set the table for sports betting, including creating a Chicago gaming authority, during the 2018 regular session. That bill has gone through multiple iterations and could be resurrected during the veto session, depending on the outcome of the November elections.
The expectation in Illinois is that a new, Democratic governor will be elected and that Democrats will have a “super majority” in the legislature. Should that happen, Rita’s SB 7 would likely run a natural course to expiration in January, when the new term starts and be rewritten after the new governor and legislature are sworn in.
If things play out differently in November, SB 7 could be considered during the veto session or in the first few weeks of January, when a glitch in the rules allows bills to be passed with only a simple majority during what is often called the “lame duck” session.