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New Illinois Governor Has Revenue From Legal Sports Betting In His Budget

Legalizing Sports Betting And Marijuana Are Part Of Plan To Get Illinois Out Of Fiscal Hole

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The new governor of Illinois is hoping that legalizing sports betting will help fix the state’s budget problems.

Democrat J.B. Pritzker took office at the start of the year after defeating incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner last November, and proposed his budget to the state legislature on Wednesday. Pritzker’s proposal includes $200 million in revenue from legalized sports betting in the state, along with another $170 million from the legalization of recreational cannabis, among a few other ideas to bring-in new sources of tax revenue.

The new governor is hoping that sports betting can be a piece of an intricate puzzle that would fix the economic mess that his state is currently in. According to Bloomberg, his plan would bring in about $1.1 billion in new revenue, which would cover about one-third of the state’s budget deficit. Illinois hasn’t had a balanced budget since 2001.

Illinois is just the latest among a slew of states that are looking to cash in on the sports betting craze that started after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act last May, which opened the doors for sports betting to be legalized on a state-by-state basis.

The other states, however, had bills drafted in the state legislature and put in front of their governor to sign. Pritzker is one of the few governors who has openly advocated for legalization and likely the first to direct his legislature towards that sector.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently pushed his legislature for legalization, however legislation had already been passed. Cuomo was urging lawmakers to speed the process along by passing regulations. There is no current legislation that is passed in Illinois that would allow such offerings at casinos in the state.

The Sports Wagering Act, SB 0176, was introduced to the state senate on Jan. 30 by Sen. Napoleon Harris III. It was moved to the subcommittee on Gaming on Thursday. If passed, Pritzker would get his wish and sports betting would be legal in his state both at retail locations and online.

There are rumors that Rep. Mike Zalewski could introduce a sports betting bill of his own to the house in the near future.

Illinois has a shaky history when it comes to legalizing gambling. Last year, Rep. Bob Rita pushed for a bill that would have legalized sports betting, online poker, online gambling, daily fantasy sports, as well as authorized six new casinos in the state, including one in Chicago. It did not pass.