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Illinois Governor Supports Legalized Sports Gambling

February 26, 2019

It's no secret that the state of Illinois is dealing with substantial financial deficits. More and more, the nation is seeing state legislators look towards legalized gambling as a possible source of revenues to help state coffers. 

While the Illinois state legislature has been kicking around broader gambling bills over the last couple years, new Gov. J.B. Pritzker has sets his sights on legalized sports gambling. 

In his first budget speech before his constituents, Gov. Prtitzker asked state congress members to deliver him $1.1 billion in new revenues, of which he wanted to see $212 million come from legalized sports betting. 

In his speech, he stated, “I’m calling on the legislature to take this up immediately so that Illinois can realize hundreds of millions of dollars, create new jobs and bring sports betting into a regulated environment that will protect citizens from bad actors. If we do it this year and become the first state in the Midwest to move on this initiative, we can realize more than $200 million from sports betting fees and taxes in FY 2020.” 

This is a bold move in a state that has wrestled with the gambling issue for years. As part of his request, he laid out a four-point description of how he believes the state can realize his lofty goals:

  • Twenty interactive sports wagering licenses TBD
  • A flat 20% percent tax on gross sports betting revenue
  • Mobile wagering with n-person registration
  • $10 million sports betting licensing fee

Other than a significantly lower tax rate, the bill Gov. Pritzker proposes is quite similar to the sports betting bill that was passed in Pennsylvania. 

As for the future, the Governor firmly believes this legislation could bring in significant year-over year revenues. According to him, 

“Based on estimates from Oxford Economics, Illinois could generate between $384 million and $680 million in gross sports wagering revenues per year under full implementation. At the proposed 20 percent tax rate, this would generate tax revenues of between $77 million and $136 million per year.” 

In the coming months, Congress will likely be discussing Pritzker's proposal along with the possibility of approving fantasy sports betting, which might finally get the exposure it needs because of the Governor's support of gambling in general. In the current climate, it seems a sure bet something is going to get done in quick fashion.


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