Online Poker In Illinois Is Not A Thing Yet, But Retail Rooms Are Taking Action

Posted By Joe Boozell on June 24, 2021

Online poker and casino did not pass in the May legislative session after the Illinois House and Senate introduced internet gaming bills in 2021.

These matters are still very much alive in the future. But in the short term, there won’t be legal online poker or casino games in Illinois.

However, the good news for Illinois poker players is that poker is in the language of the House and Senate bills. So, if Illinois eventually passes a substantial online gaming package, poker shouldn’t be left behind.

There’s not much text in the bills dedicated to poker, however. Here’s what we know about what online poker in Illinois could look like if it becomes legal one day.

What do the Illinois bills say about online poker?

The House bill, HB 3142, received more discussion than the Senate bill. The bills are quite similar, however.

HB 3142 defines poker as an “internet game,” in the same category as gambling games, table games and slot machines.

Notably, the bill includes simulcasted live dealer versions of casino games, including poker.

There is also interstate capability written into the bill, which could lead to online poker compacts with Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.

The House bill allows the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) to enter into agreements with other jurisdictions to facilitate internet games, such as online poker. That means player pools could combine and players would be able to compete with people in other regulated states.

Operators would also be allowed to connect Illinois players’ accounts with accounts they’ve registered in other states.

For example, let’s say an Illinoisan plays online poker with Golden Nugget. Golden Nugget also operates in New Jersey. So if said Illinoisan is in the Garden State, they’d be able to play there without creating a new account.

So, which online poker operators could we see in IL?

The bill allows for 39 skins,” three for each casino and racetrack. Of course, Illinois would likely not actually have that many operators. However, there would be no shortage of options for players.

Overall, the bill is quite friendly to operators. There is just a 12% tax rate on all gaming profits, which would be the lowest of any state currently operating online casino.

If online casino and poker eventually pass in IL, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a higher final tax rate than 12%.

What’s the latest on Illinois poker rooms?

Three of Illinois’ 10 casinos have poker rooms. They are at Grand Victoria Casino Elgin, Hollywood Casino Aurora and Jumer’s Casino & Hotel.

As of now, the Grand Victoria and Hollywood Aurora poker rooms are open.

The Jumer’s poker room remains closed. Bally’s just made its Jumer’s purchase official, and perhaps that has something to do with the delay.

And for those wondering, the Harrah’s Joliet poker room closed officially as of October 2020.

That’s the situation in the present. In the future, it is possible that there will be more poker rooms in Illinois.

Rivers Casino submitted an $87 million expansion plan to the IGB earlier this year that would include a 22-table poker room. The casino is hosting a dealer job fair today (June 24).

The 2019 gaming bill also allows for six new casinos in Illinois, and any of them could have poker rooms. The casinos will be in the following regions:

  • Rockford
  • Waukegan
  • Danville
  • Williamson County
  • South suburbs
  • Chicago

For more on the latest Illinois casino and poker room news, PlayIllinois is tracking every reopening development here.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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