Illinois Lawmaker Backs Online Casino Bill as Indiana Legislation Stalls Until 2022

  • Rep. Rita’s bill would legalize Illinois online casino betting with a tax rate of 12% on revenue
  • HB 3142 also opens the door to multi-state liquidity sharing for an Illinois online poker market
  • SB 417, HB 1406 must wait until 2022 for reintroduction despite projecting up to $80m tax for Indiana
A judge's gavel resting on the US flag
An Illinois lawmaker has proposed new online casino legislation, while a pair of similar bills in Indiana have stalled until 2022. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

One step forward, one step back

Lawmakers in both Illinois and Indiana are currently attempting to pass online casino legislation with varying degrees of success.

HB 3142 would allow the Prairie State’s casinos and racetracks to offer internet gaming

Last week, Illinois saw the introduction of a new online casino bill, HB 3142. State Rep. Bob Rita proposed the legislation on Thursday. If passed, HB 3142 would allow the Prairie State’s casinos and racetracks to offer internet gaming. The bill would permit three online casino skins per licensee, also paving the way for an online poker market.

Meanwhile, online casino backers in the neighboring state of Indiana faced a setback last week after a pair of bills failed to pass through the committee stage in time. The bills would have legalized internet gaming in the Hoosier State’s racinos and casinos. Lawmakers will now have to wait until next year to reintroduce SB 417 and HB 1406.

Rita sets Illinois on the path

Rep. Bob Rita was one of the main proponents for Illinois sports betting before its legalization in 2019. This has already generated great success, with the state seeing more than $125m in operator revenue and $19m in taxes since the market went live in March 2020. Now, he has his sights firmly set on online casino wagering.

the online gaming licensing fee would be $500,000, renewed for a fee of $250,000

Rita’s HB 1342 proposes a tax rate of 12% on gross gaming revenue, lower than the 15% tax currently in place for sports betting. In addition, the online gaming licensing fee would be $500,000, renewed for a fee of $250,000. The legislation would require online casino customers to register in-person for the first six months.

As part of the bill, Rita also opened the door for a possible multi-state poker market. He included a section on accepting out-of-state wagers – something necessary for multi-state liquidity sharing for online poker operators. However, he asked the Illinois Gaming Board to determine whether it could permit this under state law.

HB 1342 is not the only gambling bill currently under consideration in the Prairie State. Although Illinois sports betting has been live for almost a year, state lawmakers are currently attempting to pass other legislation to expand the market. Bill HB 5875, introduced in January this year, would legalize betting on collegiate sporting events.

Hoosiers back to square one

In January, Indiana Senator Jon Ford introduced a new bill that would allow the state’s 14 casinos and racinos to apply for online casino licenses. State Rep. Alan Morisson proposed a companion house bill later that month, sharing Ford’s intention.

After failing to pass the committee stage last week, both SB 417 and HB 1406 will not be taken up again until 2022. This is bad news for state coffers, according to the senator. Ford projected that a legal online casino market could generate between $65m to $80m in annual tax revenue. He also argued the additional funds could help Indiana’s land-based casino industry recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Ford based his projections partially on the success of online sports betting in Indiana. In just December last year, Hoosier bettors wagered more than $313m on sports bets. It was the sixth straight month in which handle grew, with online apps accounting for 84% of the total.

In other legislative news, a Nevada senator is currently drafting a bill which would create an esports regulatory body in the Battle Born State. It would be the first legislation of its kind in the US, through which Sen. Ben Kieckhefer said he intends to create “greater stability and security” for esports growth. Although the bill itself will not focus on gambling, A.G. Burnett, former Nevada Gaming Control Board chair, said the legislation is necessary for standardized esports wagering.