Illinois Lawmakers Consider Major Changes to Gambling Laws
Lawmakers in Illinois are considering making changes to current gambling laws, including sports betting and online gambling.
Now is a time when many states across the US are considering legal changes regarding gambling. Lawmakers are more open to change, and gambling services can bring in new revenues that are much-needed, especially considering the overall damage from the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 into this year. In Illinois, lawmakers are considering many changes, including removing a sports betting prohibition of in-state university and college bets along with online gambling.
What’s on the Table?
Right now, Representatives and Senators are looking at many ways to change up the gambling industry. One measure considers allowing the state to provide sports bets on local university and college sports, something that is currently banned in the state.
In another measure, online gambling would be allowed, while another would ban sweepstakes games that operate similarly to video gambling. The House Executive Committee just reviewed these bills yesterday, discussing how the changes would affect the state.
Representative Mike Zalewski is the sponsor behind the gambling expansion bill, which looks to end the sports betting ban. He feels the prohibition reduces the state’s marketplace and without the restriction, the market would be able to truly grow.
On the opposite side, some university employees are against the idea. Josh Whitman is the Athletic Director of the University of Illinois. He stated in the committee meeting that he is opposed, feeling that students might be at risk.
Whitman feels that student athletes would be targeted, specifically via social media with sports betting allowed on college games. People who lose bets due to the action of a student might become threatening or even abusive on social media and that is something the he and the university he works for strongly oppose.
To try and combat this issue, Zalewski says that House Bill 849 will allow a university to petition the local Gaming Board to stop wagering on its school for a period of time. This can be done if the institution feels a player or a team has been influenced by bettors, faced an injury, or been affected in another negative way from betting.
Along with sports betting, an expansion into online gambling is on the table. Representative Daniel Didech has spoken out about the prevalence of online gambling apps and why the state needs to start talking about them and begin the legalization process.
Didech pointed out that these games are taking place without regulation and it is very dangerous to continue to allow this to take place in Illinois. The Rep. called the unregulated sites predatory and said they are connected to cheating and other types of scandals. They are operating and using consumers from the state to make a profit without creating jobs or paying taxes.
The Rep. also pointed out that money being deposited into the accounts from the illegal websites is not safe. Players may not be able to cash out or it take a long period of time to receive winnings. He would like to see regulation of the industry and make it a legalized market so that players can continue to take part in online casino gaming while the state benefits.
Video gambling terminal operators are opposed to the idea. They say that online gambling would pull players from their games.
No vote took place on any of these matters, but discussions were on the table, which is a start. It will be interesting to see if any of the gambling legislation is able to move forward and what changes will take place in the state because of it. Only time will tell if the sports betting industry will remove the ban or if the online gambling idea will come to life.