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Illinois Governor signs gaming expansion legislation into law


Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed into law the far-reaching gaming expansion bill passed by the state legislature early in June, paving the way for the roll-out of regulated sports betting. 

Senate Bill 690 was one of four bills signed by the Governor as part of the Rebuild Illinois capital plan. This aims to raise $45bn to invest in roads, bridges, railways, universities, early childhood centers and state facilities over the next six years, creating an estimated 540,000 jobs over that period.

The gaming expansion bill allows for the establishment of six new land-based casinos, including a major facility in Chicago, as well as the roll-out of slot machines at racetracks and the O’Hare and Midway airports. 

It also includes Representative Robert Rita’s Sports Wagering Act, which was attached to the wider bill in a last-minute push to shepherd sports betting legislation into law. 

This sets out a $10m license fee for master licenses for casinos and racetracks, with online licenses costing $20m and both certificates valid for four years. Sports facilities, stadia with a capacity of 17,000 or greater, will also be able to secure a licence at a cost of $10m, which also allows for mobile wagering within a 5-block radius of the venue.

Operators will pay a 15% gross revenue tax, to be deposited in the newly created Sports Wagering Fund. Money generated will be split between counties, to support the criminal justice system, and the Capital Projects Fund.

For the first 18 months of the market, customers must sign up in-person for an online sports wagering account.

“I am proud to join Governor Pritzker, Senator [Terry] Link and our many dedicated advocates in communities that will benefit greatly from the gaming expansion package in Senate Bill 690,” said the bill’s House sponsor, Representative Bob Rita. 

“This is a testament to bipartisan work in Springfield to create jobs and bring new entertainment and tourism dollars to areas that desperately need it around the state. Thank you to everyone who made this victory possible.”

American Gaming Association president and chief executive Bill Miller noted that Illinois had become the 17th US jurisdiction to legalize sports betting since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018.

“As the state rolls out its sports betting framework, it’s critical that Illinois sports teams and other newcomers to the gaming business follow the lead of the state’s licensed gaming operators in advancing responsible gaming practices that ensure protections for consumers, bets and game integrity,” he added.

Alongside SB690, the Rebuild Illinois package consists of House Bill 62, covering appropriations for capital projects, Senate Bill 1939, to raise revenue for horizontal construction and House Bill 142, for bond authorization. 

The measures are expected to raise $33.2bn for the state’s roads and bridges, $1bn for passenger rail and $1.8bn for economic and community development. A further $400m will be raised for broadband expansion, with $200m going to affordable housing and $200m to Illinois’ healthcare system. Gaming expansion alone is projected to generate $350m a year for state coffers, to be used to fund construction projects.

“With this historic $45 billion capital plan, we’re fixing decades-long problems, creating good jobs, improving communities for the next generation – and doing it together, across party lines,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. 

“The Rebuild Illinois plan transforms our state’s approach to transportation infrastructure, finally treating our roads, bridges, and railways like 21st century investments and not relics of the past,” he explained. “We’re also making critical investments in our higher education institutions, our crime lab and veterans’ homes, early childhood centers, and expanding broadband access to communities across Illinois. 

“With these investments, we’re creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of new jobs in our state. This is more than an infrastructure plan. This is a job creation plan the likes of which our state has never seen.”