- HB3142 Would Regulate Online Poker and Online Casinos
- Illinois Would Tax Gaming Revenue Below Other States
- Bill Proposes Illinois Join a Multi-state Poker Agreement
This week, an Illinois state representative introduced a bill that would add online poker to the state’s gambling options. Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) brought House Bill 3142 to the statehouse floor. The legislation would legalize and regulate both online poker and iCasinos in the Land of Lincoln.
Bill Would Expand Illinois’ Gambling Offerings
HB3142 would add to the recent explosion of gaming offerings in Illinois. Only within the past three years Illinois moved its riverboat casino industry onto dry land. Governor J.B. Pritzker has been a proponent of expanded wagering within the state. He signed a law that allowed the state’s ten riverboat casinos the option of leaving the water. That bill also called for building a resort-style casino within Chicago’s city limits.
On the back of the state’s revamp of its land-based casinos, Illinois also set-up regulated sports betting. The Sports Wagering Act of 2019 created retail sportsbooks and mobile betting apps. Upon launch, sportsbooks were targeted for the state’s casinos, racetracks, and even ballparks and arenas. Legalization came after the state continued to lose players – and their tax dollars – to neighbors with regulated sportsbooks and apps like Indiana.
Illinois Online Poker Could Be a Huge Money-Maker
Rep. Rita’s bill, if passed, would create new licenses for operators hoping to sign-up online poker players and iCasino enthusiasts. The licenses could be built onto companies already offering mobile sports wagering in Illinois. But other operators – especially the poker heavyweights – will certainly attempt to get in the game.
Illinois is a potential whale for online poker and casinos. Even during the pandemic, Illinois saw $435 million bet on sports in October 2020 alone. The sixth largest state by population, with a long history of gambling, Illinois could be a goldmine. Online casino play could build upon the state’s already mature video lottery terminal industry. Mobile gaming could tap into players that do not want to venture to a bar or slot parlor for the thrill of the win.
Lower Proposed Online Gaming Tax Rate
The details of HB3142 set it apart from other states. With a proposed tax rate of 12% on operators’ adjusted gross revenue, Illinois would be at the low end of recent legalizations. For example, Michigan collects 20-28% of iGaming gross receipts. Pennsylvania taxes online slots at a whopping 54%, while only taking 16% of online poker and table game revenue.
Slotting all tax rates below similar states, Illinois would be primed to become a big player in poker and iCasinos. HB3142 would run poker and iGaming through the Illinois Gaming Board, which already has control of sports betting licenses and regulations.
Even with its higher tax rate, Michigan online poker has been a bonanza. This is because Michigan wisely allowed multi-state gaming agreements. Rep. Rita’s proposal also pushes for Illinois to pool its poker players across state lines. With recent good news from courts regarding the federal Wire Act’s applicability to multi-state poker agreements, Illinois could drive U.S. online poker to new heights.
By pooling players from numerous jurisdictions, a multi-state compact creates larger tournaments, prizes, and guarantees. Subsequently, each state receives large tax revenues. It is a win-win, and a good sign to see Illinois preparing to join with Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Look for more states, like Pennsylvania, to also join together soon.
In the past three years, Illinois has completely changed its attitude towards gambling. Rep. Rita’s HB3142 would be the capstone to the state’s gambling regime. Needing additional revenue, the legislation will likely be welcomed by other members of the statehouse and governor.