Illinois Could Launch Multi-State Online Poker in 2024 Illinois Could Launch Multi-State Online Poker in 2024

Could the second-largest US state for real money online poker be at hand in 2024?

Yes, absolutely — and Illinois lawmakers want the state to join a multi-state online poker compact, too.

Why the enthusiasm? Two bills that would legalize online poker are still alive for the current session of the Illinois General Assembly, which ends in January 2025.

That means that if either bill wins passage by then, the nation’s sixth-most populous state, the Land of Lincoln, would be poised to become an online poker powerhouse. It would be the biggest state with online poker after Pennsylvania.

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Poker Bills Are Very Similar

It’s been nine months since the two bills that would legalize online poker were introduced in the House.

HB 2239 was introduced by Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. (D-Chicago) on February 8. Another House Democrat, Rep. Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook), introduced his bill, HB 2320, just six days later.

The two bills, called the Internet Gaming Act, have similar scopes and backgrounds. Consider that both bills would:

  • Legalize online poker and online casino gaming
  • Permit an unspecified number of qualified licensees to operate up to three skins for online casino
  • Include the state’s land-based casinos and racetracks in its definition of qualified licensees
  • Allow the state to join a multi-jurisdictional gaming compact like the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA)

On that last point, both bills include the same verbiage. “The [Illinois Gaming] Board may enter into agreements with other jurisdictions to facilitate, administer, and regulate multijurisdictional approved internet games, including, but not limited to, poker,” they state.

However, the bills differ slightly on the tax rate for online poker and licensing fees. Under HB 2239, the tax rate would be 15%, and the licensing fee would be $250,000, but HB 2320 envisions a 12% rate and a $500,000 fee.

Either option would be lower than three of the four MSIGA states — Delaware (62.5%), Michigan (20% to 28%), and New Jersey (17.5%). Nevada levies a 6.75% tax rate on online poker.

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All Poker Networks Would Want Entry

If Illinois online poker were to launch and join MSIGA, it would be the compact’s most populous state.

The compact currently includes, in order of population, Michigan (10 million), New Jersey (9.3 million), Nevada (3.2 million), and Delaware (1 million).

That means shared liquidity would get a huge boost with Illinois on board. Players in a five-state compact, with a total population of about 36 million people, could look forward to exciting contests and much bigger prizes.

All three network operators currently offering online poker in the US — BetMGM, PokerStars, and the WSOP/888 US Network — would surely want to get in on the action in Illinois. So, too, would Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive (RSI), which plans to introduce its US Run It Once poker platform in 2024.

So far, PokerStars has combined its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey, while WSOP/888 currently enjoys shared liquidity across all four states but will lose access in Delaware once RSI takes over as the state’s lone igaming provider.

Legalized online poker in Illinois could incentivize RSI to launch in four states (sorry, Nevada), creating a shared pool of players stretching from East St. Louis to East Rutherford.