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Illinois House To Consider Online Poker Plan

Hearing Tuesday Could Determine Future Of Measure


Illinois lawmakers will discuss the state’s online casino games bill at a hearing on Tuesday.

The measure will be considered in the House Executive Committee, as the bill cleared the Senate by a 42-10 vote about three weeks ago. The legislation is sponsored in the House by Rep. Michael Zalewski, and in the other legislative chamber by Senators Kwame Raoul, Dave Syverson, Steve Stadelman, Pat McGuire and Napoleon Harris.

The bill, HB 479, was introduced in January, but it wasn’t initially expected to have much momentum in 2017. The Poker Players Alliance said it will testify in support of the measure at Tuesday’s meeting.

An estimated $300 million in revenue could be generated by the games.

The Division of Internet Gaming would be created within the Illinois Gaming Board, and it would be tasked with issuing the five-year licenses. An internet gaming licensee would be limited to two brands. Licenses would cost $10 million and would be an advance payment of taxes, which would be 15 percent of revenue.

Online poker in Illinois could provide a big boost to live games. Through the first three months of 2017, the Illinois poker market was $3.34 million, down about nine percent compared to the $3.68 million raked during the same period last year.

There are about 40 poker tables in the state.

According to the bill, lawmakers have found “that Illinois residents participate in illegal online gambling on unregulated Internet websites operated by offshore operators who are not subject to regulation or taxation in the United States."