Illinois was the first state in the U.S. to sell lottery tickets online, and now, Illinois State Sen. John J. Cullerton is looking to make it the first state in the U.S. to offer regulated online poker and casino games.
Cullerton submitted an amendment to HB4148 that would create a Division of Internet Gaming within the state's Department of the Lottery, and the lottery's online gambling site would be the state's lone operator.
"In order to protect Illinois residents who wager on games of chance and skill through the Internet, and to capture revenues generated from Internet gaming, it is in the best interest of the State and its citizens to regulate this activity by authorizing and establishing a secure, responsible, fair, and legal system of Internet gaming," reads the amendment. "It is also in the best interest of the State to establish an Internet gaming platform … to ensure that Illinois is not precluded from reaping the benefits of Internet gaming as contemplated by proposed federal legislation pending before the United States Senate."
The amendments to the bill would also authorize the Division of Internet Gaming to enter into multi-state agreements, much as state lotteries currently do for multi-state lottery jackpot games such as Powerball and Mega Millions, most likely for the purposes to building liquidity for games like poker and bingo.
Games would only be available to people ages 21 and older that are physically located within the state's borders. It also calls for the creation of a self-exclusion list and requires an ongoing study to determine the impact of online gambling on the horse racing and riverboat casino industries.
A hearing on the bill and its proposed amendments is expected next week.
Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi. Follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.