A stalled bill from 2023 that would legalize Illinois online casinos has regained a pulse.
House Bill 2239, which was first introduced by Rep. Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. in February 2023, was recently assigned to the House Gaming Committee. Before that, there had been no activity on the bill since March 2023.
There is still a long way to go before legalizing online casinos in Illinois is a real possibility, but this is a step in that direction.
So, what happens next?
HB2239 is currently the only bill in the Gaming Committee’s docket. As of Monday afternoon, the committee had no upcoming scheduled hearings. If it passes through the Gaming Committee, HB2239 would then need to be approved by the House, a Senate committee, and then the Senate before a signature from Gov. J. B. Pritzker would turn the bill into law.
The Illinois legislative session runs from mid-January until May or June. HB2239 will likely be the only chance at legalizing iGaming this year.
A previous attempt to legalize iGaming was stalled in the Senate in the last legislative session. The House has also seen other iGaming bills fail to reach a floor vote. Thus far, Illinois lawmakers have not succeeded in building a coalition of support to expand gaming in the state, which already has land-based casinos and legal sports betting.
HB2239 calls for 15% tax rate
The Gonzalez bill calls for an initial $250,000 online gaming license fee, followed by an additional $100,000 paid annually by online gaming operators. It would tax online casinos at a 15% rate on revenue, with some of that revenue being used to fund responsible gambling programs in Illinois.
Neighboring Michigan is the only other Great Lakes state with legal iGaming, which has proved to be a boon for that jurisdiction. Michigan allows online slots, casino games, and online poker.
Gonzalez is a staunch advocate of legal iGaming
Gonzalez represents the 23rd Illinois District, which comprises primarily the neighborhoods in and around Cicero. At 27, he’s one of the youngest state legislators to ever serve in Illinois. The Democrat ran on a platform that included a commitment to introducing iGaming legislation.
Another bill is making its rounds
Senate Bill 1656 was re-assigned to the Senate Executive Committee last month after also stalling out in early 2023.
Introduced by Sen. Cristina Castro, SB1656 would also tax operators at 15% with a $250,000 license fee. Castro serves as the chair of the Senate Executive Committee.
That committee has a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, but SB1656 is not among the agenda items.