Illinois Considers Online Poker and Casino Games
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Illinois state representative Bob Rita introduced a bill in February that seeks to legalize online poker and online casino games in the state.

HB 3142, which would create the Internet Gaming Act, received its first reading on February 19 (the day after it was originally filed) and was quickly referred to the Rules Committee.

And, though there is still a long way to go before the bill becomes law, the latest attempt by Illinois lawmakers to make online gaming a reality in the state has a better chance of passing than in years past.

The proposed Internet Gaming Act would add online poker and online casino games to online sports betting, which is already legal in the state. Illinois also allows the sale of online lottery tickets, and the State Supreme Court recently ruled that at least some Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) games are predominated by skill and do not qualify as gambling under state law.

In addition, HB 3142 would also allow the acceptance of out-of-state wagers, a requirement to facilitate multi-state online poker pools.

Under the terms of the bill, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) would have the discretion to “enter into agreements with other jurisdictions to facilitate, administer, and regulate multijurisdictional approved Internet games, including, but not limited to, poker.”

If enacted into law, the Internet Gaming Act would require the IGB to “adopt emergency rules within 90 days.” The bill also provides a plan for the aggressive timeline for developing igaming regulations, directing the IGB to “look to the Internet gaming rules of other regulated jurisdictions in the United States and shall implement consistent rules to the greatest extent practicable.”

In terms of taxes, Rita proposes a tax rate of 12% of adjusted gross gaming revenue which would put Illinois on the lower end of other states that offer regulated online gaming.

In comparison, Michigan, the most recent state to launch igaming, taxes online gaming at 20-28 percent of adjusted gross receipts, Pennsylvania collects a total of 54% of online slot revenue in taxes and 16% for table games and online poker, and New Jersey taxes Internet Gaming Gross Revenue at 15%.

US Online Poker Set to Expand Further in 2021

Regardless of what happens with the Internet Gaming Act in Illinois, the landscape for US online poker is shifting rapidly and is looking better than it ever has.

This year alone, American online poker has been boosted by two big events.

In January, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit brought clarity to the situation surrounding online poker shared liquidity in the US when it affirmed the 2019 decision that prohibitions established by the 1961 Wire Act are limited to sports betting. The decision is not expected to be appealed.

As a result, additional states are expected to join New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware in the Multi State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) to allow shared liquidity.

Another big event for US online poker took place just a week later when Michigan authorized PokerStars MI to go live, launching the online poker market in the Wolverine State.

And more events that will further expand online poker in the US are expected this year including:

  • The launch of at least one more online poker room in Michigan.
  • The launch of multiple online poker rooms in Pennsylvania.
  • At least one additional state joining MSIGA and expanding shared liquidity in the US.

BetMGM MI, operating on the partypoker US Network platform, is the frontrunner for the next online poker room in Michigan.

In Pennsylvania, not only is BetMGM PA expected to launch, but we may also see WSOP PA go live in the Keystone State on the new Poker 8 platform developed by 888poker.

Add the possibility for a late 2021 launch of online poker in Illinois to those list of events, and it becomes clear that online poker is on the rise in the US.