Illinois’ Sports Betting Bill Down to the Wire

Illinois’ Sports Betting Bill Down to the Wire

After several failed attempts to get their sports betting bill stabile, Illinois lawmakers are up against a deadline to get the measure passed before the current legislative session ends.

Rep. Mike Zalweski is preparing new amendments to the state’s sports betting measure with the hope that it will bring all parties together for quick passage.

The new amendments bring sports betting under the umbrella of the state’s lottery commission, force the use of official league data for in-game bets and reduces the fees and taxes of previous proposed bills.

Lawmakers have until May 31st to get sports betting completed in the state or face the possibility of a special session and more gridlock.

What is the Biggest Problem in The Illinois Bill?

The biggest sticking point in the state’s sports betting bill is a “penalty box” amendment that would keep Draftkings and FanDuel out of the state for an undetermined period of time.

The bad-actor clause for DraftKings and FanDuel has been a huge issue for lawmakers after the companies failed to honor an opinion by the state’s attorney general.

The two betting powerhouses angered legislators in 2015 when they conducted business in the state through daily fantasy sports leagues that had questionable legality.

“(The penalty) remains the No. 1 issue to be decided upon and then I think we can file a final amendment,” Zalewski said.

The two companies are ready with lawsuits if the bad-actor clause survives the final bill.

“We believe FanDuel and DraftKings could make a strong claim that this selective targeting of winners and losers is not permitted by the Illinois or U.S. Constitutions,” said attorneys representing both companies.

The bad-actor clause in the bill was offered as an amendment to House Bill 1260.

The amendment bars companies that “(have) engaged in the crime of illegal gambling” from obtaining a sports license to offer sports wagering in the state for three years after legalization.

Rep. Zaleweski acknowledges that the clause is becoming a headache that needs to be decided as soon as possible.

“This issue consumes all the oxygen related to sports betting right now,” Zalewski said.

“We know we need to make a decision on whether to include a penalty box or not. We still haven’t reached a consensus way to move forward on this.”

Are the Proposed Taxes in the Illinois’ Bill Also a Sticking Point?

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is attempting to shrink a sizable deficit in the state’s budget by proposing enormous fees for potential operators.

In previous versions of the bill, fees for operators would begin anywhere from $10-20 million with a tax rate hovering around 25%.

Gov. Pritzker has said that he’d like to raise around $200 million for the 2020 fiscal year from sports betting and although ambitious, the figure could be obtained with high fees and taxes.

But Rep. Zalewski has introduced new amendments that would set the bar for a licensing fee around the $10 million mark to gain approval from the governor.

With less than ten days left in the legislative schedule, the pressure is on legislators like Rep. Zalewski to find common ground to meet the lofty expectation of the state’s Governor.