US Gambling Legislation Updates: Illinois and Rhode Island


Illinois lawmakers have considered legalizing in-state collegiate wagering during the final day of the legislative session, while a new Rhode Island bill aims to guarantee a stipend for communities which host the state’s two casinos. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A busy Memorial Day

Despite representing a national holiday, Memorial Day saw lawmakers in the states of Illinois and Rhode Island continue to mull legislation in regards to their gambling laws.

would permit bettors to wager on in-state college teams on a two-year trial basis

On the final scheduled day of the session in Illinois, lawmakers unveiled House Amendment 1 to SB 521. The omnibus gambling legislation would permit bettors to wager on in-state college teams on a two-year trial basis. The amendment passed through the House after a short debate on Monday with a vote of 96-11.

Illinois lawmakers failed to consider the issue of online gambling legalization however. HB 3142, or the Internet Gaming Act, will now likely surface again during a veto session in the fall.

In Rhode Island meanwhile, Rep. John Edwards has introduced legislation which aims to guarantee a stipend for the towns which host the state’s two casinos.

Collegiate betting in the cards

Illinois became the ninth state to legalize sports wagering in 2019, and has since generated upwards of $3.6bn in total betting handle. However, state law has always prohibited betting on in-state college teams.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Rita, House Amendment 1 to SB 521 would allow in-state college betting as a Tier 1 wager. This means bettors would not be able to wager on specific players, only the outcome of a fixture. The legislation also requires residents to place those wagers in-person rather than online.

If passed by the Senate and governor, the legislation would take effect immediately. The law would run through July 1 2023.

In addition to allowing in-state collegiate betting, the amended bill would prohibit local governments from taxing video gambling machines. It would also permit fraternal organizations to apply for gaming machine licenses even if their municipality has banned them.

Online gambling efforts fall flat

In February, hopes for legal online casino gambling in Illinois seemed high after Rep. Rita introduced HB 3142. The legislation sought to legalize online gambling at the state’s casinos and racetracks with three online casino skins per licensee and a tax of 12% on revenue.

the state’s online casino hopes rest on a veto session in the fall

With lawmakers failing to consider that legislation on Monday however, the state’s online casino hopes rest on a veto session in the fall. Lawmakers cancelled the session last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but usually utilize the extra period to finalize rules developed in the spring.

Part of the reason for the delay rests on a request for more information on the market’s potential. In May, Illinois senators filed a bill calling for estimates of potential online casino revenue. They set a deadline for that request of October 1, which will give them time to consider the data before the veto session in November.

Edwards backs stipend guarantee

In Rhode Island, Rep. John Edwards has introduced a bill which aims to guarantee a stipend for communities that host the state’s two Twin River casinos. Through the bill, Lincoln and Tiverton would receive at least $3m each year regardless of whether the casinos are operational for the entire period.

In a statement on Monday, Edwards explained why he believes the measure is necessary. He said: “Last year during the pandemic, Tiverton did not receive their full stipend due to the closing of the casinos, and the amount due them was not addressed in a prorated manner.” Edwards argued that host communities should get compensation for any similar closures in the future.

Lawmakers have referred the bill to the House Finance Committee.



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