New Emergency Casino Rules In Illinois Don’t Touch Sports Betting

Posted on October 25, 2019

Before the end of September, there was a cause for excitement in the Land of Lincoln. New Illinois emergency casino rules were published.

The reason for the hype wasn’t included in them, however. Nothing in the amendments addressed legal sports betting in Illinois.

What’s in the new Illinois emergency casino rules

For the most part, the rule changes alter definitions and broaden regulations regarding gaming facilities. That includes broadening the definition of “organization gaming facility,” eliminating the word “riverboat” from other descriptions and adding the word “casino” to others.

The rules also include language that explicitly makes all references to riverboat gambling operations also applicable for all and any other types of gaming organizations. From there, the rules modify existing statutes on gaming positions.

The Illinois Gaming Board now defines the number of gaming positions at a facility as 90% of the total number of devices available for play. This is one place the rules do mention sports wagering, however.

Any devices used for sports betting won’t count toward the total for gaming positions. The same goes for any devices dedicated to betting on horse races.

That means licensed facilities won’t have to take that into account when they consider how many betting kiosks to place on their floors. The IGB may make separate rules regarding that later, however.

The new rules also remove a stipulation that craps tables count as 10 gaming positions. The new rule gives the IGB more subjective authority in determining that number.

A final significant change involves the sale of alcohol at gaming facilities. Gaming facilities that aren’t operating 24 hours a day are now restricted to selling alcohol from 9 a.m. up until an hour prior to the time they cease gaming operations.

The importance of these changes can be confusing. It’s necessary to consider them in the appropriate context.

Why the new rule changes matter for Illinoisans

Outside of potentially having to adjust to the new liquor sales rule, a lot of these changes will affect operators of gaming facilities much more than the patrons. Customers don’t need to count gaming positions or determine whether the casino they have visited fits the IGB’s description.

At the same time, the rules could act as a crystal ball. One of the main thrusts of the gambling expansion law is increasing revenue.

In that interest, the law allowed for construction of new facilities and the expansion of existing ones. That includes a mega-casino in Chicago.

By giving the IGB more flexibility in determining the number of gaming positions, the rule changes encourage facilities to maximize their space. That, in turn, increases the potential for tax revenue for the state. The document actually details how serious the need is for the state to collect new gaming taxes.

This flexibility could be an effort by the IGB to curtail doubts about the feasibility of gambling expansion. An earlier study concluded a Chicago casino would be financially insolvent, and the Arlington racetrack may relocate all because of concern over the state’s tax rates.

While these rules provided some clarification after the gambling expansion, the wait on regulations on sports betting continues. It’s still unclear when that wait will end.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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