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Massive gambling expansion bill approved in Illinois

3 Jun 2019

By Dan Ippolito
Illinois is gearing up for sports betting and new casinos.

Over the weekend, the House and Senate in the Prairie State passed Senate Bill 690, which now awaits a signature from Governor JB Pritzker. The bill will create six new casinos in Illinois in Waukegan, Rockford, Danville, South Suburbs, Williamson County and downtown Chicago, in addition to the 10 already existing. Additionally, sports betting licenses will be awarded to locations that can seat over 17,000 people. Also, the bill will give O’Hare and Midway airports the capability to implement slot machines, and two horse tracks will be added, bringing the total number of horse tracks to five.

After the legislation passed the House, Gov. Pritzker seemed very upbeat:

"Legalizing sports betting and expanding gaming will create jobs up and down the state, from Rockford to Chicago to Walker's Bluff, where communities hungry for employment will see 10,000 new jobs," he said in a statement. "After the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, I promised the people of Illinois that sports wagering would be a key element of my legislative agenda, so that we are competitive with our neighboring states and can create more revenue for communities around Illinois.

"Gaming expansions in this state have been attempted and failed for years; this effort succeeded because of talented and dedicated public servants like Leaders Terry Link and Tony Munoz and Representatives Bob Rita and Mike Zalewski. Today is a win for the whole state."

Pritzker wasn’t the only one showing great support for SB 690. David Katz, Equity Analyst for the Jefferies firm, referred to the bill as “the most significant gaming liberalization in the U.S. in more than a decade.”

"It presents a wide range of potential outcomes which are mixed for operators and a significantly positive catalyst for the equipment suppliers," Katz added in a report released Monday morning. "The breadth of the expansion raises questions and issues for incumbent operators, given the incremental competition expected to be forthcoming, which is prospectively offset by inducements to build land-based properties and increase gaming capacity. In short, the competitive landscape becomes considerably more crowded within Illinois and in all directions."

Rush Street Interactive, owners of the Rivers Casino, was also pleased with the weekend's news.

“Thanks to Governor Pritzker’s leadership and the weekend overtime hours put in by the General Assembly, we are excited by the legalization of sports betting and the prospect of making history by bringing our innovative and award-winning mobile platform to Illinois," said Richard Schwartz, President of Rush Street Interactive, in a statement. "Just this past week we made history in Pennsylvania for being the first to launch an online sportsbook. We look forward to bringing the same top quality, award-winning products and services to players in Illinois where we are headquartered."

But not everyone was so upbeat about the bill, most notably DraftKings CEO Jason Robins, since the bill doesn’t include any online licenses for online operators.

Only three operators will gain online licenses, which will be chosen by the Gaming Board and sold for $20 million each.

Last month, we reached the one-year anniversary of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) being declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Department of Justice. Now Illinois aims to join the eight states to introduce legalized sports betting (Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) and the seven more that are pending launch (New York, Arkansas, Oregon, Montana, Iowa, Tennessee and Indiana).
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