Illinois Representative Plays the Long Game With His Online Casino Bill, Senate Measure Moves Ahead

Illinois Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. is playing the long game to legalize online casino gambling. He believes state lawmakers may decide to play it safe in 2024 and not pass it. However, he thinks the Internet Gaming Act (IGA) will eventually become law.

Gonzalez, D-Chicago, told Bonus on Jan. 13:

I’ll be requesting the bill move out of the Rules Committee.

It is an election year, so there may be little movement in terms of legislation because of it. But because the budget is a perpetual discussion, as well as new revenue streams, I want to be sure that this bill is in the discussion. It’s tax revenue that the state is missing out on — this argument is more persuasive for the budget-wary sensibilities of many of my colleagues, beyond whether gaming expansion in general is a positive or negative.

I took on this bill expecting it will be a long-term project. So we’ll see how that goes.

He introduced HB2239 in the Illinois General Assembly on Feb. 8, 2023. So far, the Illinois online casino bill has experienced a first reading, a trip to the Rules Committee, a visit to the Gaming Committee, and then a return to the Rules Committee. That last action was on March 10, 2023.

As of Jan. 17, that House committee is where HB2239 remains.

Its counterpart in the Senate, SB1656, last saw movement on Jan. 10, when that bill took its second trip to the Executive Committee. That bill’s primary sponsor — state Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin — didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment from Bonus.

A Long Wait for Online Casinos in Illinois

Before Gonzalez began working on the IGA, previous lawmakers had been trying to pass an Illinois online casino bill since legal online sportsbooks launched in 2020.

Those efforts also didn’t make it past committee hearings.

However, legalizing iGaming separately from sports betting is a heavy lift.

Other than Rhode Island, which will launch online casino gambling on March 1, states that legalized online casino gambling did so simultaneously with sports betting.

However, Gonzalez may have a peer in a like-minded industry leader. BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt told The Huddle on Jan. 4 that all states with legal land-based casinos will eventually legalize iGaming. Illinois has 11 commercial casinos.

The key, Gonzalez and Greenblatt seem to agree, is emphasizing the word “eventually.”

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
Back To Top

Get connected with us on Social Media