Illinois Online Casino Bills Introduced Without Full Support Of Illinois Casinos

Written By Matthew Kredell on February 9, 2023
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Lawmakers filed companion Illinois online casino bills in the House and Senate.

Sen. Cristina Castro filed SB 1656 and Rep. Edgar Gonzalez issued HB 2239 on Wednesday.

It’s the first effort to do online casino in Illinois since 2021.

Without support from all Illinois casinos and with opposition from video gaming terminal operators, however, the bills face a difficult path this year.

Castro told PlayUSA:

“While I am still working with stakeholders on the specifics, my hope for this proposal is that the ongoing success of sports betting in Illinois will open the conversation about potential expansions in online gaming as well.”

Details of Illinois online casino bills

Castro previously sponsored a bill drafted by Caesars in 2021 and championed a study bill that year to bolster this effort. For Gonzalez, this is his first foray into online casino legislation.

Key details of the bills include:

  • Authorizes 11 casinos and three horse racetracks to apply for licenses.
  • Each licensee may contract with up to three online operators.
  • Each licensee pays an initial license fee of $250,000, renewable for $100,000.
  • An internet management services provider license costs $100,000 or $50,000 if already approved in the state for sports betting, renewable every four years for $50,000.
  • Taxes adjusted gross gaming revenue at 15%.
  • Taxable revenue excludes promotional credits.
  • People may establish an online casino account in person or online without appearing in person. (Illinois online sports betting infamously required users to sign up in person in the early going, which blew up when the pandemic hit.)

Casinos aren’t unanimous in support of online gaming

Cindy Fiocca-Bloom, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, told PlayUSA that the ICGA will not be taking a position on the online casino legislation.

That means that Illinois casinos remain split on their support for legalizing online casino gaming.

Ten of the 11 casinos operating in Illinois make up the Association. It’s going to be hard to pass Illinois online casino legislation without all the retail casinos on board.

VGT opposition is strong

PlayIllinois estimated that Illinois online casino could create as much as $105 million in tax revenue annually.

But that pales in comparison to VGTs, which have surpassed traditional casinos as the top gaming revenue generator in Illinois.

Local economies rely on the gaming machines at these bars and restaurants. Illinois lawmakers will have to take into account the impact legal online casino apps could have on them.

Sen. Dave Syverson explained in 2021 why it will be difficult to get support from Illinois lawmakers for online casino.

“What politician is going to vote for something if, back home, his local restaurants, bars and veterans and fraternal organizations are opposed to it?” Syverson asked. “That would be political suicide.”

Photo by PlayUSA
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew's reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. After graduating from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and

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