Illinois lawmakers introduce online casino bill

The state of Illinois is the latest US jurisdiction to contemplate the legalisation of online casino gambling.

Illinois lawmakers have introduced a new piece of legislation that would legalise online casino gambling in the state.

The Internet Gaming Act

Under the bill, HB 3142, also known as the Internet Gaming Act, land-based casinos in the state of Illinois would be allowed to apply for an online gaming licence.

Each of the state’s licensees would then be allowed to host up to three online casino skins or team up with three internet management service providers, to offer online casino products to residents aged 21 and over.

According to the measure, an internet gaming license would cost an initial fee of $500,000 along with a $250,000 renewal fee.

Meanwhile, the management service provider licenses would cost $100,000, however, this would be halved if the applying business already holds a similar certification in another gambling vertical. This would last for a four-year period and cost $50,000 to renew.

The legislation would also create two other licenses, a supplier license and an occupational license.

The supplier licenses would cost $75,000 and cover a business providing content and services to customer-facing operations. Similar to the management service licence, this fee could be reduced if a provider is already licensed in Illinois. This would last for four years and must be renewed for $50,000.

Lastly, the occupational license would relate to individuals that can make critical changes to hardware or software, or that have access to customer account data. These would cost $1,000 and would cost $500 to renew. Again, the initial cost of these could be halved for existing license holders.

The proposed measure would also permit operators to link accounts in other jurisdictions. This would give the state regulator, the Illinois Gaming Board, the power to enter into an agreement with other jurisdictions to operate inter-state games such as online poker.

Similar to the state’s online sports betting legislation, the online casino bill requires customers to create their online accounts in-person at one of the state’s licensed businesses. However, unlike the sports betting bill, the registration requirement would remain in place for just six months.

Online casino operators would be taxed at a rate of 12% on gross revenue, which would then be paid into the State Gaming Fund. The Department of Human Services will then receive $10m of the tax revenue, which will go towards problem gambling treatment programs. 

At the time of writing, the bill is with the House Rules Committee and if the bill is signed into law, the state regulator would have 90 days to create emergency rules for a quick launch.

Operators may also be granted temporary licenses within 30 days of filing an application. 

Gambling expansion in Illinois

The introduction of the proposals comes after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a massive gambling expansion package into law in July 2019. This bill allowed for the legalisation of sports betting in the state.

As well as legalising sports betting, the bill paved the way for the launch of six new land-based casinos and a large casino venue in Chicago.

Illinois sports betting market went live on 9 March 2020 with the launch of a BetRivers-branded sportsbook at Rivers Casino Des Plaines. Online sports betting went live in the state when BetRivers launched its online sports betting platform on 18 June through Rivers Casino des Plaines.

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