The Land of Lincoln has a lot to offer gamblers throughout the State of Illinois. However, if you are accustomed to a centralized location for your gambling and gaming fun, you won’t find one here. Nevada has Las Vegas (and Reno). New Jersey has Atlantic City. Illinois has gaming options all over the place but you need to know where they are before you can make use of them. Sure, almost any large city in the state offers at least some type of gambling. Lottery tickets are available in even the smallest of communities and then there’s online poker. Illinois is gaining traction as one of the most interesting and active places in the United States for gambling.
But before we look into the future of gambling in Illinois, let’s take a look and what has happened over the years to get us to where we are now.
The History of Gaming In Illinois
Unlicensed riverboat casinos traveling up and down the Mississippi River in the 1800s is where our story begins. The type of player attracted to that form of gameplay is what brought attention to the activity. Unfortunately for many gamblers, that attention was not favorable and lawmakers of the day made the practice illegal. Despite this, gambling continued in many social circles and gained so much momentum that opportunities to profit from gaming resulted in illegally operated gaming events.
It was in the 1920s when horse race betting was legalized in Illinois. The first state lottery legislated in the US was in 1974 in Illinois and it is a gaming activity that continues today with profits from the sale of lottery tickets growing steadily since legalization. The Riverboat Gambling Act became law in 1990 and the first legal riverboat casino was opened in 1991 in Alton, Illinois. At the time, riverboat casinos were required to move along the waterways during gambling activities. That changed in 1999 when these casinos were permitted to operate permanently docked.
The Video Gaming Act went into effect in 2009 and that opened the doors for video gaming terminals (VGTs). They are located throughout Illinois in licensed liquor-pouring establishments, fraternal/veterans clubs and truck stops. As you can see, Illinois is very well positioned to jump into the next level of gambling in the near future.
Here is a look at four of the top predictions about Illinois gambling. Keep in mind, these are based on speculation concerning information currently available.
1 – Sports Betting To Come in 2020
It has been a long time coming but the blocks are in place to see sports betting as part of a future gambling expansion in Illinois. During the spring of 2019, the Illinois state legislature passed a bill that will permit both physical sportsbooks as well as online sports betting. All that is holding up this from becoming reality is time. Casinos, state regulators and sportsbooks are required to move this gaming option forward. Once up and running, you will be able to place bets at casinos, racetracks and lottery locations throughout the state. The legislation will also permit online betting with computers and handheld mobile devices.
2 – Online Poker Will Come To Illinois
Currently, online poker is still in the development stage in Illinois. Whether or not it will be implemented with the expected sports betting expansion later this year is not known. However, it is not illegal to play online poker within the State of Illinois provided you are accessing one of the many offshore online poker sites. These internet-based options provide all the gameplay you would expect from an online poker source and you don’t have to keep peeking behind you to see if someone from law enforcement is watching. To be sure, do some homework first to identify legal offshore online poker sites before playing.
3 – Expect To See VGTs In Many More Places
As part of the 2020 gambling expansion in Illinois, video gaming terminals are going to be popping up in several high traffic public venues. However, the general public won’t be allowed to participate. To explain further, video slots and poker machines will be installed at two Chicago airports – O’Hare International and Midway International. Airport gambling will have restrictions compared to most other VGT gaming guidelines. This means that to access games on the airport VGTs you will have to become part of a private club. This will control the gambling so that it is just for airline passengers and not the general public.
4 – Watch For Sports Gambling Near Your Favorite Sports Venue
The Illinois Gaming Board will be issuing sports betting licenses. The first roll-out of this will be for sports venues that currently seat more than 17,000 people. In Chicago, that means Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, United Center, and Guaranteed Rate Field would be eligible to permit sports betting on all major sports teams based in the Windy City. Expect the popularity of this to push for licensing to relax the 17,000 seat requirement which would open up sports gaming for smaller venues such as college sporting teams. These moves will all work to make Illinois a desirable destination for visitors who enjoy various forms of gambling
The Future of Gambling In Illinois Is Bright
According to Ann Holmes, the state can benefit greatly with further gambling expansion to include sports betting. “The Illinois Casino Gaming Association (ILCGA) says that sports betting, once it goes into effect, will be taxed at a rate of 15 percent. That is far less than the 72 percent tax rate Chicago casinos must pay. Regardless of the tax rate difference, the state stands to benefit from all gambling activity it permits and essentially the more the merrier.” She states that with more gaming options available through the proposed 2020 expansion, more people are going to be attracted to the industry through tourism. “Illinois won’t be the next Vegas, but it will be at the very least, as popular a destination as Vegas currently is.”