State Rep. Bob Rita introduced the Internet Gaming Act in February, which would legalize online casino in Illinois. A word of warning, online casino advocates: There is an in-person registration component in the bill.
Unfortunately, in-person registration has been in the news a lot lately, as Gov. JB Pritzker recently decided to bring back the policy for online sports betting. Pritzker had waived the requirement for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The good news is that the online casino registration rule is not as restrictive as the online sports betting version. Here are the differences between the two gaming bills.
Online casino in-person registration would be shorter
You would need to register in person at the partnering retail casino for six months after the launch of online casinos in Illinois.
Here is the exact language in the Internet Gaming Act legislation:
Eligible persons must establish Internet wagering accounts in person at a casino or racetrack during the first 6 months of operation. After the first 6 months of operation, an account may be established over the Internet without appearing in person.
Once the six months pass, you could sign up online on your computer or mobile phone.
That’s about as straightforward as it gets.
Who’s For, Against Major Gaming Proposals: Illinois has several pending pieces of gaming legislation. Here’s who is arguing for and against the proposals.
Online casino bill language not so muddy
The end of in-person registration for online sports betting is far messier than it would be for online casino gaming.
By comparison, here’s the language in the Sports Wagering Act:
Until issuance of the first license under Section 25-45, an individual must register in person at a sports facility or the designee’s facility to participate in sports wagering offered over the Internet or through a mobile application.
And here are relevant portions of Section 25-45:
The Board shall issue 3 master sports wagering licenses to online sports wagering operators for a nonrefundable license fee of $20,000,000.
Applications for the initial competitive selection occurring after the effective date of this Act shall be received by the Board within 540 days after the first license is issued under this Act to qualify. The Board shall announce the winning bidders for the initial competitive selection within 630 days after the first license is issued under this Act.
Online registration can’t happen until between 540 and 630 days after June 11, 2020, when Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) issued the first sports betting licenses.
That would put us some time between December 2021–March 2022.
- Online Casino: In-person registration would end six months after a given operator launches.
- Online Sports Betting: Online registration can’t return until a mobile-only license is issued.
No mobile-only license requirement for online casinos
But there’s more.
As previously mentioned, the return of online registration for sports bettors also requires a mobile-only sports betting license. Thankfully, that rule isn’t a part of the online casino legislation.
These online-only licenses cost $20 million apiece, far more than a standard license.
With most of the key sports betting operators already in Illinois, there is a chance no one will bid for those licenses. If that happens, we would either need a legislative fix, or in-person registration would remain.
When the law was written, it didn’t seem like DraftKings or FanDuel had a way into the market. In theory, they’d be interested in the online-only licenses.
But now that DraftKings and FanDuel are operating in Illinois via retail casino partners, the list of potential suitors is short, or perhaps nonexistent. BetMGM is a candidate, though that can’t be said with certainty.
Illinois online casino bill includes online poker
Beyond the six-month in-person registration requirement, here are some other highlights of the online casino bill:
- The bill includes online poker.
- Live dealer versions of online casino games would be available.
- There would be a 12% privilege tax on all gaming revenue.
- The bill allows for a maximum of 36 skins.
Michigan, the most recent state to launch online casino, is off to a fantastic start. Operators profited nearly $80 million in their first full month.
For context, Illinois sports betting has never profited more than $50 million in a single month.