It appears as residents of Illinois will have to wait a while longer for regulated online gambling in the state and although Senate President John Cullerton does believe it will happen, he’s not exactly sure when that might be. Illinois is a huge state, the fifth biggest of the union, and tax revenue from online poker alone could be huge, and the subject of online gambling is regularly brought to the table, however Cullerton believes that the larger issues of land based casino expansion must be taken care of first.
You’ll only find riverboat casinos in Illinois, a total of 10 of them, and there’s been plenty of attempts at expansion with the last bill of May last year never even making it to a vote. That bill would have allowed for 5 casinos to be built in the state, and one of the present bills is almost identical and is asking for one casino in Chicago and four to be built elsewhere. There is in fact another bill that is looking at just one casino, and that would be built in Chicago, and there’s much support for expansion with the Mayor of Chicago being a strong supporter. Cullerton is however sure that both land based expansion and online gambling will eventually see the light of day in Illinois stating that, “I’m not a fan of gambling, but we have gambling in Illinois, it’s called Hammond, Indiana. Two thirds of the license plates over there are from Illinois. So we’re losing money. We’re helping fund the schools in Indiana, not in Illinois.” He admits that at present there are too many different groups interested and that any bill would have to be a complex one to accommodate all stakeholders, keeping everyone happy and more importantly getting the votes required. Residents of Illinois do indeed get across to gamble in land based casinos in Indiana, and they also gamble online too, in the many offshore regulated casinos available, such as Desert Nights. It does seem that regulated online poker and casinos will make it to Illinois but no-one at present is holding their breath for it.