Tuesday May 15, 2012 : ILLINOIS BACK IN THE INTERNET GAMBLING RACE (Update)
New initiative seeks to create new Internet Gaming Division within the state lottery
The US state of Illinois is back in the race for internet gambling legalization following the introduction Tuesday by Senate President John Cullerton of a new measure designed to create an intrastate online gambling platform.
In a letter to legislative leaders and Governor Pat Quinn, Cullerton wrote: "At its heart, the proposal creates the division of Internet Gaming within the Illinois Lottery whereby the division's executive director can establish a single Internet gaming platform to usher in i-gaming as well as permitting the division to partner with existing Illinois gaming entities and other third parties at the appropriate time."
Cullerton added: “The state could organize the first major poker pool, garner worldwide popularity, and position itself as a ‘hub’ for multi-state and international iGaming.”
Sen. Cullerton says that internet gambling can be introduced to the state in an "ethical and socially responsible manner" while still generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the state treasury. And he wants legislators to act quickly so that Illinois does not fall behind several other US states considering internet gambling.
The Chicago Democrat added that the bill has to be approved in the current session, scheduled to end May 31, to qualify under legalization pending in the U.S. Senate that would only allow states with a regulatory framework in place to offer Internet gambling.
Cullerton said that the new revenue generated by licensing and taxing online gambling would be a boon for Illinois, which has an $83 billion unfunded pension liability and a chronic structural budget imbalance.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, has asked his staff to review Cullerton's bill, according to spokesman Steve Brown.
Illinois was the first state to sell lottery tickets over the internet from March this year, and with a population of 12.9 million (compared with Nevada's 2.7 million) it represents a promising market.
If enacted, Illinois's Internet gaming platform could be up and running next year.
The legalization could be heard in the Senate’s Executive Committee as early as this week.