Illinois Rep Considers Linking Sports Betting Legislation and Casino Expansion

  • Representative Robert Rita has plan to expand casino gambling and legalize sports betting in Illinois
  • Casino expansion would include six casinos and more gambling seats at existing venues
  • Rita hopes adding sports betting to the measure will counter criticism of casino expansion plans
New York politicians have added an amendment to draft online sports betting legislation to permit affiliates to offer online wagering
New York politicians have added an amendment to draft online sports betting legislation to permit affiliates to offer online wagering

New legislation proposed in Illinois

For several years, efforts to expand the gambling industry in Illinois have failed. Now a state legislator is trying again, with sports betting in the mix. Representative Robert Rita is working on a measure that would increase the number of casinos in the state and also legalize sports betting. Rita is hopeful that the inclusion of sports betting will help critics support the plan.

The measure would allow six new casinos to be constructed in the state. It would also add gambling seats to the current casinos in the state, along with sports betting. Advocates feel that now is the time to bring sports betting to the state.

Representative Robert Rita said: “Sports betting is a component that everybody is looking for. The existing casinos are looking for the sports betting…It’s the common denominator that could bring it all together.”

Proponents have claimed that the expansion plan will bring $350m (£276,241,337.82) in annual tax revenues to the state. That money is needed to help finance a state construction plan proposed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, which has a cost of $41.5bn (£32,754,330,055.80).

Rita’s plan still needs to be written into a proposal but he said it will be similar to past proposals. One of the six new casinos would be land-based in Chicago. Up to five riverboat casinos would be in the mix as well.

The proposal would add gambling seats to existing venues. Horse racing tracks could expand their table game seats and sweepstakes wagering would also be created.

Failed past efforts

In the past, the debate regarding a casino expansion in Illinois has centered on the scale of the plan. Politics and morals have also gotten in the way. There is a resistance to gambling that has left the state unable to expand its existing gambling industry.

The horse racing industry has also played a role in protesting expansions because more casino gambling would create more competition. Overall, previous plans have not gained enough support. In his new proposal, Rita has added sports betting in the hope of adding enough support to pass the measure.

Representative Rita tried in the past to bring the expansion idea back to life but failed. Last year, he approached the idea during the spring session’s final week, but efforts went nowhere.

Ten riverboat casinos are currently operating in Illinois. If Rita’s measure is approved, that number could grow to 15 plus one land-based venue in Chicago.