The Illinois online casino bill that stalled in a House committee in March 2023 may be revived in 2024, hopes state Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. On Oct. 31, he told Bonus he still believes HB2239 can move forward. If the bill is approved, Bonus estimates iGaming will generate $240 million in annual tax income for Illinois.
Gonzalez, D-Chicago, told Bonus today:
I believe the bill will stand as-is. And, hopefully, it can get a committee hearing. Proponents of the legislation have been engaging with legislators to walk through numbers and concerns. I remain optimistic but unsure of the timeline — this bill will probably take some more time to digest.
Meanwhile, the measure that calls for a 15% tax rate on online casino gambling operators sits in the House Rules Committee. Lawmakers “re-referred” HB2239 there on March 10.
Unlike many other states, Illinois’ legislative sessions operate on a two-year cycle. So, the 103rd General Assembly lasts from Jan. 11, 2023, to Jan. 5, 2025.
That means the Illinois online casino bill Gonzalez introduced on Feb. 8, 2023, still has a chance to pass during 2024.
Initially, online gambling industry leaders believed Illinois was one of the most likely states to legalize online casino gambling in 2023. However, only Rhode Island did so. That state is scheduled to launch its online casino app in 2024.
Illinois Online Casino Bill Well-Received, So Far
The state’s newest online sportsbook operator, Circa Sports, was interested in online casino legalization.
The operator soft-launched its sportsbook app on Sept. 29, then opened its retail book on Oct. 4 at American Place Casino in Waukegan.
Circa Sports’ Operations Director Jeff Benson told Bonus today:
We’ll consider iGaming if legalized.
At the moment, Circa is concentrating on launching its sportsbook in Kentucky. The Bluegrass State launched retail sports betting on Sept. 7 and online sportsbooks on Sept. 28.
Benson said to Bonus today:
Hope to launch in KY in 2-3 months.
Legalizing Online Casino Is ‘Inevitable’
On March 30, Gonzalez told Bonus:
iGaming is inevitable, it’s just a matter of when and how.
Illinois is no stranger to the usual objection in each state considering legalizing online casino gambling. Land-based casino stakeholders have already voiced their concerns about “cannibalization,” which is the belief that iGaming will take revenue away from retail casinos.
That’s likely what Gonzalez meant today when he told Bonus, “Proponents of the legislation have been engaging with legislators to walk through numbers and concerns.”
Meanwhile, many land-based casino operators are already partnered with sportsbooks.
Therefore, they’re seeing retail vs. online revenue firsthand.
In August alone, Illinois sportsbooks brought in nearly $47 million in adjusted gross gaming revenue (GGR). That’s what Marcus Fruchter said on Thursday to the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB). Fruchter is the IGB’s executive director.
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