Illinois Bill Would Legalize Online Poker
Wednesday, the Illinois state legislature introduced a bill that would legalize internet gambling, with a committee approving the legislative proposal on a 10-4 vote. The full senate is expected to decide on the landmark legislation in the next few days.
The bill represents Illinois' second attempt at legalizing online gambling, which would enable residents to play poker and other games of chance online. State senator Terry Link, a Democrat, said the gambling expansion will generate between $400 million and $1 billion in new government revenue.
For 2012, the online poker industry totals $33.8 billion around the world, according to industry insider Sam Shefrin in a recent interview with Investment Underground. "The U.S. Department of Justice indicted Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and others in April of 2011 . . . . Online poker enthusiasts are hopeful that the U.S. can soon become like the U.K. and other countries where online poker is legal and regulated," said Shefrin.
If the measure is passed, online poker sites such as Pokerstars (which has bought Full Tilt) and 888 Poker could once again make its way to households, coffee shops, and offices throughout Illinois. Professional players, many of whom have since moved outside of the U.S. since the government shutdown in April 2011, will likely establish residences in Illinois in order to legally wager online.
In March 2012, Illinois became the first state in the United States to sell lottery tickets online after the United States Justice Department ruled that it would not prevent official state-sponsored lotteries from selling tickets on the Internet. In December 2011, the DOJ revised its opinion on the 1961 Wire Act and decided that the law only restricted wagering on sporting events.
As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Already faced with a weak U.S. economy, Illinois is struggling with its worst fiscal crisis in history. On Wednesday, Illinois governor Pat Quinn presented the state budget which proposed to slash $400 million from education in order to pay for skyrocketing public pensions. Next year, the state, which has long been a bedrock for public unions, expects a backlog of $2 billion in unpaid bills to vendors.Continued on the next page