Illinois is one step away from legal sports gambling after a last-ditch effort from Rep. Bob Rita dropped into place this weekend.
House lawmakers voted to approve a wide expansion of gaming within a capital financing bill on Saturday, and the Senate followed suit on Sunday. Gaming provisions within the act comprise a long-awaited casino in Chicago and authorization for both retail and internet sports gambling.
The bill goes to the desk of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose recent remarks make it clear he will sign it into law. The governor helped shepherd IL sports gambling across the end line, wanting to drive more than $200 million in additional revenue to his nation.
Passage was, frankly, a remarkable feat considering the absence of advancement during the first five weeks of this year. Previous proposals from Rep. Mike Zalewski were turned aside, and a perceived conflict of interest forced him to step back in the final days of session.
LSR has been keeping a close watch on the chatter this weekend and updating this page as the situation unfolded. Here is the play-by-play:
Is Sunday the afternoon for Illinois sports betting?
The Senate eventually takes the floor following 4 p.m. local time. It doesn’t take long.
Sen. Terry Link presents the terms of the amended bill, which carries a complete projected financial effect of $12 billion. Commendations and favorable comments from Sen. Dave Syverson, the Senate Minority Leader, seem to indicate that passing is a certainty.
Comments are short and mostly surface-level, using a few lawmakers poking around at narrow provisions which affect their components. Sen. John Curran is the only person who talks to sports gambling at any length, looking for clarification on the branding provisions for online platforms.
Link is psychological as he shuts the proceedings, reflecting on his 20-year effort to increase economic growth from manufacturing.
The room applauds as the board lights up green, and the Senate concurs with the House changes by a 46-10 vote. Just like that, the bill that will legalize sports gambling in Illinois is led to the governor.
IL sports betting bill as amended
Here’s the Complete text of this language:
What is in the amendment?
The new vertical financing bill includes a multi-level gaming package headlined by a mega-casino in Chicago. The measure also offers six categories of licensure for IL sports gambling:
Master sports wagering
Management services provider Tier two official league info provider Central system provider In stark terms, these classes allow casinos, race tracks, and sports sites to offer sports gambling — equally in-person and online. The terms that concern online gambling, however, require in-person enrollment for the first 18 months.
The amendment also authorizes a lottery implementation encompassing 2,500 places in the first year.
IL sports betting details
The fee for a master sports betting license is calculated based on gross gaming revenue from the last year. Casinos will pay 5% of that number to provide sports betting for four decades , up to a maximum of $10 million. That cap wasn’t current in recent versions and should ease the load on large operators such as Rush Street Gaming. Rita also softened the proposed tax rate down to 15% of revenue.
As you can infer from the classes, language mandating using official league data for props and in-play gambling stuck. While there’s absolutely no ethics fee, the bill does empower schools and sports leagues to limit the kinds of available wagers. As composed, weatherproof collegiate sports are completely off the board in Illinois.
The amendment removes the overall blackout period for online gambling that snuck to an earlier version, but it will keep a modified penalty box for DraftKings and FanDuel. Daily fantasy sports businesses will be permitted to compete in the sports betting arena, but only master licensees can provide online wagering for the first 18 months.
The amendment also generates three online-only licenses costing $20 million apiece, awarded on a delay via a competitive process.
Saturday: Agreement reached for IL sports betting About three hours to the weekend semester, we’re still in a holding pattern. House lawmakers have ticked several more items off their to-do record now, including a bill that increases the minimum wages for Illinois teachers. For now, however, there’s nothing new to report online sports gambling.
Aside from the things we’re already touched on, a few other challenges have cropped up.
Perhaps most importantly, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot publicly opposes the bill as written. Her main concern is that the provision allowing sportsbooks inside of stadiums and arenas.
Mayoral opposition leads to’comprehension’
Here is the statement from Mayor Lightfoot, as reported by Capitol Fax:
“I firmly support a gambling bill that directs a brand new casino and dollars to the town of Chicago. But, I oppose the inclusion of a provision which would open sports wagering in areas like Soldier Field. Such a proposal has the potential to undermine the viability of any Chicago-based casino through the diversion of customers and revenue from a casino. Because the impact of sports wagering in stadiums has not been completely vetted or examined, I cannot support the bill in its present form and urge the deletion of the stadium-betting provision”
On Saturday, but the government releases a followup statement indicating that the conversation is still moving ahead:
“I have spoken to Mayor Lightfoot concerning her issues with respect to sports gambling, and we have reluctantly worked together with the bill sponsors to make clear that the legislative purpose will reflect that there are limits on both the amount of and places for sports gambling venues. I’m happy that we have attained this understanding…”
Mayor Lightfoot then drops her resistance via a different announcement:
“After productive discussions with the Governor, we’ve agreed to permit a limited amount of betting at sports venues subject to local oversight and control. These enhancements to the gambling proposition will allow us to maximize earnings capabilities of a new casino for the City of Chicago and ensure a fantastic quality of life to our neighborhoods which may otherwise be impacted. As such, I recommend the passing of SB 690 as amended…”
Illinois House votes on sports betting After a break for committee meetings and caucuses, Rep Bob Rita documents a last amendment to the funding package. The sports betting language appears mostly unchanged at a glimpse, although there are a lot of words to get through. The bill is called for second reading around 6 p.m. local time and proceeded straight to third.
By that point, it is apparent that House lawmakers have reached an agreement to pass quite a few big bills — such as this one — before the end of the evening. The floor demonstration becomes something of a victory lap for Rita, with several associates commending him for his broad efforts to shore up vertical infrastructure. In his closing, Rita thanks Rep. Mike Zalewski because of his work.
The House votes 87-27 in favor of passing, sending the bill back to the chamber of origin for concurrence. The Senate meets Sunday at 3 p.m.
Friday: Last gasp for IL sports betting prospects
Friday was frantic in the state capitol, using a myriad of important issues to hammer out on the final day of the scheduled session. Lawmakers did make a dent in the pile of invoices, but leaders had been forced to issue a bad-news bulletin extending the work week during Sunday.
Although sports betting remains unresolved, a substantial effort has surfaced.
Rep. Robert Rita captured the reins on Friday, borrowing from the frame of Rep. Mike Zalewski to cobble together a compromise bill. His effort ran out of daylight on the House floor, but the bonus weekend of lawmaking means there is still hope for sports betting this season.
Even though there’s some momentum, failure to cast a vote Friday makes the job a little bit taller. Any invoices considered from here out there demand a 3/5ths supermajority to pass, a threshold which could just be out of reach.
Here’s a chronological timeline of the day’s events:
A brand new automobile for IL sports betting Lawmakers start the day behind closed doors, working to finalize the frame for IL sports betting. Most presume S 516 will function as the car, a Chicago casino invoice that appears to be an appropriate target for the enabling language. A midday curveball, however, shifts the attention.
Joe Ostrowski is a Chicago radio anchor who has had his ear to the ground nowadays, and he is the first to show that everyone is looking in the incorrect place.
Joe Ostrowski
Some optimism in Springfield for sports gambling.
SB 690 should drop very soon.
7:22 PM – May 31, 2019
Twitter Ads info and solitude Watch Joe Ostrowski’s additional Tweets
The bill he cites (S 690) isn’t a gambling bill, but a step amending tax provisions at the Invest in Kids Act. The present version has cleared the Senate and awaits a floor vote in the lower room. Suddenly, some expect House lawmakers to file a new amendment related to sports betting.
Sure enough, a placeholder pops upon the docket, using a hearing at the House Executive committee scheduled for 1:30 p.m. local time. A change of sponsor to Sen. Terry Link provides another sign that something is about to take place.
LSR sources suggest that there is excellent reason to monitor the dialogue all the way up before the past gavel.
Senate Appropriations committee hearing
Sen. Link gifts the amended bill to the committee, and… boy, is there a lot in it.
Along with the gambling provisions, it also touches on taxes for cigarettes, parking, video lottery terminals, and a number of other mechanisms to boost state revenue. The overall fiscal impact is near $1 billion, with sports betting representing only a very small part of the bundle.
It is the fastest of hearings, over in less than five minutes. One member inquires whether the bill raises the amount of slot machines for every casino licensee — it will — and that is about it.
House Executive committee hearing
A heated floor debate on a marijuana bill (which ultimately passed) delays the home hearing by several hours.
When the committee eventually convenes, Rep. Mike Zalewski is a surprise addition to the dais at the front of the room. Even though the long-suffering proponent of IL sports betting recently stepped back from the spotlight, Rita’s bill lists him as the first House sponsor. The committee substitutes Zalewski in as a temporary member to cast a vote in favor of passage.
Without much lead time, the change brings 34 proponents and nine competitions (which grows to 18). Casino groups such as Boyd Gaming, Penn National Gaming, and the Illinois Casino Association remain in relation to the final language.
Members of this committee have loads of questions, but the majority of the conversation centers around gaming terms not related to sports betting. Rita struggles to explain some of the finer points in detail, especially as they relate to DraftKings and FanDuel. It’s complex.
The language allows online platforms, but online-only companies can’t find licensure for the initial 18 months of IL sports betting. The sponsor suggests he built his bill that way to”provide Illinois businesses a ramp” into the new industry. Rita also notes that his change won’t impact the existing status quo for DFS.
The committee recommends adoption of this amendment with an 8-5 vote, progressing the bill to the floor. There is still a lot of work left to do prior to adjournment, both on sports gambling and on a number of critical issues — such as the state funding.
Formerly, in Illinois sports betting…
This year’s attempt to legalize sports gambling follows in the footsteps of this failed 2018 effort.
As it did this past year, work started early in 2019. Lawmakers cobbled together many different potential frameworks, each catering to a particular set of stakeholders. Yet again, though, nothing widely palatable had emerged since the past couple of hours of session ticked off the clock.
The proposed budget from Gov. J.B. Pritzker includes $217 million in revenue from sports gambling, so there’s more at stake than just the freedom to bet. Failure would induce Illinois to watch from the sidelines while its neighbors at Indiana and Iowa activate their new laws.
Who can participate?
The concept of the”penalty box” is the biggest hurdle to a passing right now.
To make a long story short, a few casino groups are working to keep DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook out of the Illinois marketplace. They assert that daily fantasy sports isn’t explicitly legal in the country, and these so-called awful actors ought to be excluded from licensure for three years. The real motivation is, clearly, a desire to eliminate competition from the two companies running away together with all the New Jersey sports gambling market.
DraftKings responded by briefly running a television campaign pushing back on the barrier from Rush Street Gambling.
How much will it cost?
The sport leagues also have gained more leverage with Illinois lawmakers than they have elsewhere in the nation.
Most previous tips for IL sports gambling required payment of a ethics fee and using official league information to repay”Tier 2″ wagers. No US sports gambling legislation comprises a ethics fee, and Tennessee is the only one with a data mandate.
Coupled with licensing fees payable out at $25 million and taxation amounting to 20 percent of revenue, these operational burdens can stand between the invoice and the finish line.
Who is in charge?
Rep. Mike Zalewski carried the baton all spring, but a lack of progress and a perceived conflict of interest forced him to step aside in the 11th hour.
Start-of-day intel suggests that Rep. Bob Rita is actively working to material the enabling language into the broader gambling package before lawmakers head home for the year. In what might be seen as a reassuring sign, Senate Republican Leader Sen. Dave Syverson has signed on as a co-sponsor.
There is no guarantee that bill moves, however, and it may not include sports betting provisions even when it really does.
Matt Kredell contributed to this story.

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