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Illinois lawmakers to make final play for legal sports betting


Lawmakers in Illinois are planning to attach sports betting language to a Senate bill in a last-ditch attempt to push through regulations before the state’s legislative session comes to an end this Friday (May 31). 

iGB North America understands that Senate Bill 516, which was introduced in January by Senator John Cullerton, is to be amended to include language on sports betting regulation.

The bill was originally filed to make a minor technical amendment to the 1975 Illinois Horse Racing Act. However it has since been expanded to facilitate the launch of riverboat casinos in the state, after Senator Terry Link replaced Cullerton as the bill’s main sponsor.

With the proposal having passed the Senate in April and already progressed in the House, it is likely to be amended further to include sports betting regulations.

It has become the state’s last hope for sports betting legislation due to a procedural issue. The Illinois Constitution requires a bill to be read three times on three separate days in both the House and Senate.

This would mean the two proposals already in play, House Bill 3308 and HB 1260, would require at least five days from their introduction to pass, as both have only undergone a first reading. With the regulator session only two days from its end, a compromise based on these existing proposals will most likely be added to SB516.

Whether this compromise can be reached remains to be seen, with several, competing models for regulating sports betting currently in play, and significant issues still to be overcome.

Representative Michael Zalewski, who is leading the legislative push for sports betting, amended HB3308 to include a range of different models based on regulatory frameworks in other states. The focus then shifted to HB1260, with two options for regulating the vertical attached.

One would see a license fee of $10m – or 5% of net betting terminal revenue, adjusted gross receipts or total handle set for master licenses, whichever is greater – and $5m for licenses covering online skins. Operators would then be taxed at 25% of gross revenue.

The second offers seven land-based betting licenses at $15m apiece, and separate online-only licences, priced at $20m each. Licensees would also have to use official league data, and pay a 25% gross revenue tax.

Debate is also raging over a potential bad actor clause, that may block DraftKings and FanDuel from the market. The pair continued to offer daily fantasy in the state after it was declared a form of sports betting, which land-based casino operators have argued merits them being banned from the market.