Online Casino Games Can Work in Illinois – Here’s How
Six states have legalized online casinos.
But, so far, only Illinois sports betting is legal online in the prairie state. Today, gamblers still visit one of Illinois’ 11 casinos to play slots, card games, and roulette.
But there is a way to change that. A mix of readiness and partners can bring online casinos to IL and other states, according to industry stakeholders.
Laura Burd served as lead counsel for the Pennsylvania Control Board. This gave it a front row seat when this state introduced the rules for online casino games. The state disclosed gambling revenue to neighboring New Jersey at the time. Pennsylvania lawmakers tapped market experts to shape the new policy. Consultants arrived from New Jersey, other states and a few small European markets to start the process.
“We had done a lot of legwork,” she said during the September 21 iDEA Growth Power Lunch Summit webinar titled: The Case for Legal iGaming in Your State. “We learned on our own and had defined what we wanted to do for the regulations.”
Many requirements were already in place when legislators developed policy language.
“When it came time to write the meat and bones of the regulations — and circulate them to departments — we already had a lot of stuff in place and ready to go,” Burd said.
Create an online casino gaming coalition
Henry Williams Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) also spoke at the webinar. He said states such as Illinois should copy his state’s iGaming laws and administrative rules.
“I encourage any other jurisdiction: don’t be afraid to contact Michigan. Call us, come talk to us. Come see how we do it. However we can help you, we are available. I think some people or jurisdictions are trying to recreate the wheel, but it already exists. We send people across the United States.
The MGCB executive Director encouraged policy makers to hold an open forum. Sit down with all the stakeholders. And keep in mind that not everyone will get everything they want.
“Here in Michigan, of course, we needed the commercial casinos on board, we needed the tribes on board. We needed the public on board, all the different lobbyists and all the different stakeholders and interest groups. And so I think it really clicked for all of us to listen to each other.
Online casino games for a trip to an Illinois casino
Michigan State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. told webinar viewers that online casino gaming companies in Michigan need to make deals with land-based casinos. It was the only way online casino games could work in his state.
“The city of Detroit is largely funded by its three major casinos. And so there were concerns that iGaming would take bricks and mortar games away. We have done several things to allay these concerns. We needed heavy geocaching so casinos couldn’t just turn their casinos into an iGaming lounge and avoid paying local taxes.
Hertel also said Michigan wrote a policy to protect Detroit from lost tax revenue. If online casino games cost Detroit’s gambling tax revenue, Michigan’s online casino market would cover the shortfall.
“It’s a great new revenue stream,” Hertel said. “It’s an important part of perspective. We are always looking for more money for our schools. And it’s definitely something that’s been pushed.
Hertel said Michigan voters were specifically calling for sports betting. The numbers for his condition, however, tell a different story. Online casino games have been “the number one way to get those tax dollars into our system.”
“So I think they go together, I think that’s incredibly important in that regard.”
Make the legislation harder to attack
From fantasy football to five-card draw, betting is a way of life in the United States. But the game will have opponents in any jurisdiction. Hertel has encouraged states like Illinois to find valid destinations for gambling taxes.
Michigan directs revenue from online casinos to raise awareness of problem gambling and provide higher levels of intervention and help to people.
“We also included more money for schools, more money for localities. But what I’m most proud of…is a fund to pay firefighters who get cancer in the line of duty. Firefighters are more likely to get cancer from the chemicals they come into contact with. A fund was created, but there was no permanent source of funding.
Funding firefighters appealed to some lawmakers who were on the fence.
“Make sure when you’re selling this, that the funding structures go to things you can celebrate,” Hertel said.