Illinois could make a real push iGaming legislation in 2023. Adding legal online casinos would be a major milestone for the state’s gambling industry.
Illinois is already home to sports betting, retail casinos, lottery games, video gaming terminals and horse racing. The only missing piece of the puzzle is iGaming.
There’s potential for Illinois online casino progress next year, but legalization might end up being easier said than done.
Illinois online casino progress
Internet casinos give gamblers the chance to play classic games like blackjack and slot machines from the comfort of their homes. Online poker also frequently finds its way into the mix.
Illinois gamblers have grown accustomed to the easy access that online sports betting provides. Internet casinos offer a similar level of convenience.
Online casinos are also incredibly profitable.
Michigan added online casinos to its gambling lineup back in January 2021. Since then, iGaming has generated $1.6 billion in revenue for gambling companies. That’s in addition to the $427 million worth of tax dollars for the state.
For the sake of comparison, Illinois has brought in $900 million worth of sports betting revenue and $140 million worth of taxes since wagering began in March 2020.
In other words, online casinos are generally much more profitable compared to their legal sportsbook counterparts.
A report from the Illinois State Senate suggests that online casinos in the Land of Lincoln could rack up big numbers of their own if given the chance. That makes the idea of adding gaming options an enticing one.
Illinois introduced an online casino bill back in 2021, but things didn’t pick up much steam. The state’s first real push for legalization will likely come in the early days of 2023.
What could stop Illinois iGaming?
Online casinos would be a big win for gamblers in Illinois, but legalizing them won’t be as easy as flipping a switch.
Gambling expansion always has its fair share of pushback. There are two sides to every coin, as they say.
In Illinois, a good portion of the resistance will be coming from video game terminal (VGT) operators. If you’re not familiar with VGTs, they’re those electronic gambling machines that you’d typically find inside a bar or a restaurant.
Illinois has more VGTs than any other state in the country, and the businesses that run them aren’t thrilled with the potential of adding online casinos.
Their concerns are based on the idea that internet casinos could cannibalize some of their gambling business. State Sen. Dave Syverson expects heavy pushback from VGT owners because of those fears.
“There’s only so much disposable gaming dollars. I can tell you, a lot of restaurants and bars and VFWs in Illinois are only staying open because they’ve got the video gaming revenue to keep them sustainable. If, all of a sudden, that gaming revenue were to decrease, it would have a big devastation.”
That combined with some economic concerns could make it difficult for Illinois to legalize online casinos next year.
The potential profits paint a pretty picture, but that might not be enough to overcome some of the challenges ahead. At the very least, lawmakers are likely to take a real swing at legalization next year.
Online casinos are the next natural step for the gambling market in Illinois, and they’re likely to be a huge hit with residents throughout the state. That will keep iGaming on the minds of lawmakers as we inch closer to 2023.