Show Me The Money: Senate Bill Wants To Know How Much Revenue Online Casinos Would Bring

Posted By Joe Boozell on May 14, 2021

An Illinois Senate Resolution wants to look at how much tax revenue the state could have been generated had online casino gaming became legal in February 2020.

State Sen. Cristina Castro (pictured above) is the sponsor of the resolution. The synopsis reads:

“Urges the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability to report to the Illinois Senate estimates of the revenue that could have been generated through a privilege tax if Illinois had implemented internet gaming beginning February 28, 2020.”

The bill calls for the report by Oct. 1, 2021. Reading the tea leaves, that date likely tells us something negative about the fate of online casinos this session.

With that said, it’s probably good news for the long-term future of online casinos in Illinois, as there is clear interest among several members of the legislature.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted brick-and-mortar casinos in Illinois, hence why the report states Feb. 28, 2020, as a key date.

Here’s another key excerpt from the resolution:

“The COVID-19 pandemic made many Illinoisans wary of leaving their homes for nonessential activities and forced many casinos to close their doors for the safety of their patrons and employees; and Internet gaming is partially immune to pandemics due to the remote nature of this type of gaming.”

The report also wants to know how certain privilege tax rates will affect revenues. It seeks estimates for various privilege tax rates ranging from 12%-16%.

There are online casino bills in IL House and Senate

Time is running out during this legislative session, but there are internet gaming bills in the Illinois House and Senate.

HB 3142 has gotten more attention and was discussed during April’s House Executive Committee Hearing. The Internet Gaming Act calls for a 12% privilege tax on internet gaming revenues.

It also allows for online poker in Illinois, with a maximum of 36 skins. There would be a six-month in-person registration requirement for online casino betting, though it appears cleaner than it is in the Sports Wagering Act.

What could the report turn up?

If you look around the country, it’s hard to ignore some of the online casino numbers the other states are obtaining.

Take Michigan, for instance. In April, MI operators profited $94.9 million, resulting in $23 million in state and local tax revenue.

Online casino has only been legal in Michigan for a few months, and the market is not yet mature.

If you compare those numbers to Illinois sports betting revenues, well, it is no comparison.

IL had its most successful sports betting month in March, setting all time-records in handle, operator revenue and tax revenue. Only New Jersey and Nevada registered higher handles in March.

And yet, in its most successful month ever, Illinois sports betting produced a little more than $7 million in state and local tax revenue.

And yes, the Illinois sports betting market is more successful than the Michigan sports betting market.

So it’s fair to assume that without an in-person registration requirement, the Land of Lincoln would be doing even bigger online casino numbers than its Midwest counterpart.

Photo by John O'Connor / AP
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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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