The Illinois state senate is considering a new bill looking to legalize online casino gambling. The SB 1656 bill, brought forward by Senator Christina Castro on February 8, will permit “internet gaming operators to offer internet gaming” so long as it follows the bill’s provisions.
The bill comes on the heels of previous attempts to legalize online casinos in the state. In 2021, Castro presented the SB 2064 bill, which would have allowed casinos to “offer internet gaming.” However, the bill failed to pass through the legislative body.
Other senators have also attempted to regulate online gambling in the area. State Representative Robert Rita proposed HB 3142 in 2021, a bill that further regulated online casinos.
Rita’s bill would tax online gambling casinos under a 12 percent rate. It also opened up multistate poker games in the state. Similarly to Castro’s bill, the bill was put on hold in 2021 but may be reopened for deliberation in the House this year.
SB 1656 represents the Illinois senate’s most recent attempt to further legalize and regulate online gambling. As Illinois receives over $786 million from video gaming terminals in 2022 alone, the state stands to gain more from the legalization of other forms of online gambling.
The senate’s most recent bill, SB 1656, presents new and subtle changes to previous attempts. It would tax online gambling games a 15 percent state tax and redirect those taxes to the State Gaming Fund. Gambling sites will also have to pay a license fee of $250,000, with a renewal fee of $50,000 for license holders.
Castro also took some portions of her previous bill, adding a no “home rule” for taxes. This rule will add a further 2 percent tax for wagers made in Cook County and an additional 2 percent tax for bets made in the city of Chicago.
However, Castro’s bill would also ease some licensing restrictions for casino sites. For example, the bill will allow the Illinois Gaming Board to provide a temporary license to sites that already have a similar wagering license in other states.
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