Breaking Down the Action:
  • The Proposal for Online Gaming
  • What Makes the Illinois Bill Different?
  • How Soon Could Online Poker Return in Illinois?  

Online Poker is currently available in five U.S. states; New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Delaware have recently been joined by Michigan in welcoming the game back to virtual platforms.

Almost a decade on from ‘Black Friday’, will Illinois be the next state to see poker return? It seems so if recent developments are to be used as a guide.

The Proposal for Online Gaming

The proposal for online poker – and other casino games – was put forward by the Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives Bob Rita, who has been in that position for 18 years, nine years either side of the fateful Black Friday back in April 2011.

If the proposal is passed, casinos, both online and live would if passed would allow a casino or racetrack to offer online gaming, including poker. The so-called Internet Gaming Act would push Illinois, the Prairie State, towards hosting poker games and joining the other five states already doing so.

Should the bill be approved then passed by the full house of representatives, the Prairie State is likely to be the sixth to offer poker, but could yet be beaten to the punch by West Virginia, who legalized poker two years ago in 2019 but haven’t launched their market to match that approval since. Operators in Illinois would be charged a fee of $500,000, with a renewal fee of half that.

What Makes the Illinois Bill Different?

Until now, operators have launched poker in states where games have been limited to within that area, but Illinois’ proposed Internet Gaming Act includes being able to play cross-state poker, opening up the possibility of a mixed player markets with states such as Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania or recent additions Michigan.

Currently, the only way players from different states can pony up against each other is when the World Series of Poker’s official site allows New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada players to engage in combat. The recent Wire Act news means that plenty more multi-state poker liquidity is on the cards.

While many such bills have been passed to allow casino games and sportsbetting to come to the fore, the Illinois proposed bill is quite different, mentioning poker specifically in the legislature, asking the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) to able to “enter into agreements with other jurisdictions to facilitate, administer and regulate multijurisdictional approved internet games, including, but not limited to, poker.”

How Soon Could Online Poker Return in Illinois?

While many other such bills have taken months to meet with either approval or denial, Illinois regulators are required to “adopt emergency rules” after 90 days of the bill’s passing, which will quicken the decision-making skills of any fence-sitting advocate. It should also mean Illinois push for a running start into any action.

Initially reported by Dan Katz of pokernewsdaily.com, the Illinois bill is pushing the governing body in the Prairie State to follow the plans carried out by other states who have brought back online gaming.

With over 12.5 million residents, Illinois has produced some of the very best American poker players in the game’s history. Here are the top tournament players according to The Hendon Mob.

Top 10 Illinois Live Tournament Players of All-Time

Position Player Winnings
1st Connor Drinan $ 11,256,946
2nd Mohsin Charania $ 6,234,852
3rd Gavin Griffin $ 5,094,711
4th Ryan Tosoc $ 4,818,695
5th Aaron Massey $ 4,256,360
6th Ravi Raghavan $ 4,026,054
7th Jason Wheeler $ 4,024,296
8th Kevin Saul $ 3,748,144
9th Chris Moore $ 3,556,491
10th Kyle Julius $ 3,460,379

Illinois has a big decision to make quickly, and if those voting pass the legislation, then we could have a sixth U.S. state offering online poker very soon.

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Paul Seaton

Paul Seaton has written about poker for many years, travelling the world to report live from such poker events as the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour. As well as reporting live from the felt, Paul was Editor of BLUFF Europe magazine and has written for major poker brands including PokerStars, 888poker and partypoker where he was Head of Media. Paul has interviewed many of the world’s greatest poker players, such as Sam Trickett, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Bryn Kenney, the current all-time money list leader.

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