The House version of the Illinois online casino bill, HB2239, entered a second committee on Feb. 28. That’s its first movement since being introduced on Feb. 8 and bodes well for the Internet Gaming Act (IGA) getting a hearing there soon.
The House Gaming Committee, where the Illinois online casino bill now resides, hosts 10 other measures. While the committee canceled March 1’s hearing schedule that included two non-IGA bills, the rescheduled hearing may include HB2239.
The bill’s only had one of its required three readings, but it may already be moving faster than the 2021 bill. It may even stand a chance of passage before the Illinois General Assembly adjourns on May 19.
The IGA’s most recent incarnation, 2021’s HB3142, was also on its first reading on April 28, 2021, when it had its House committee hearing.
However, 2023’s Senate companion measure, SB1656, has remained in the Senate Executive Committee since Valentine’s Day. There, it’s one of 161 bills, including 15 from IGA sponsor state Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin. She’s the chairwoman of that committee.
HB2239’s primary sponsor, state Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr., D-Chicago, didn’t respond to a request for comment Bonus sent to him on March 1.
Meanwhile, another IGA proposal, HB2320, hasn’t advanced since it was introduced on Feb. 14.
The House Gaming Committee scheduled a hearing for 4 p.m. on March 8, with all 11 bills on its agenda.
That means HB2239 is on the same agenda as bills about video gaming terminals (VGTs), which are getting a lot of attention in Illinois.
VGTs represent a significant source of tax revenue in Illinois, and the small businesses that have those units may fight online casino legalization.
Illinois Online Casino Bill Movement Rekindles Hope
HB2239 lists a 15% tax rate Bonus predicts may generate $240 million in yearly tax revenue for Illinois, based on the performance of similar marketplaces. The proposed tax rate is the same as the 2021 IGA measure outlined and what the Illinois online sportsbooks pay. Sports betting sites launched in 2020.
Internet gaming licensees are permitted three skins each after paying $250,000 for the license. According to the bill, renewing the license every four years will cost licensees $100,000.
The proposal from Gonzalez costs operators less than the 2021 IGA. That measure would have charged licensees double, or $500,000. Then the renewals were $250,000.
HB2239 also eliminated the 2021 bill’s requirement for online casino gamblers to register for accounts in person at retail casinos for the first six months of legal iGaming. However, bettors can register at land-based casinos if they like.
Illinois IGA Bill Is Among the Last Active iGaming Measures
Illinois, New Hampshire, and New York are the last three states with active iGaming bills that may join select company during 2023 if they legalize online casino gambling.
This month, the New Hampshire State Senate may vote for a second time on SB104. That measure would legalize table-style online casino gambling without online slots, and would tax three to five operators at 35%.
On March 7, lawmakers are scheduled to attend a roundtable discussion hosted by state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., D-Ozone Park. He sponsored S4856, which would legalize online casino and poker gambling. The measure calls for a 30.5% tax on operators that is projected to generate $1 billion a year in tax revenue.
Only seven states offer iGaming:
- Nevada (online poker only)
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are the largest US online casino states in gross gaming revenue (GGR). Each earned more than $1 billion in GGR during 2022.