05/27/2013 3:46PM

Illinois House of Representatives passes online betting legislation


Legislation that would reauthorize online wagering platforms to take bets from Illinois residents on horse races, and that would resolve the distribution of money collected from Illinois’s 10th casino in Des Plaines passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin Sunday.

Residents of Illinois have been unable to bet through account-wagering platforms since January, since the legislature failed to relicense bet-taking companies in 2013. The legislation that passed the House would restore online wagering opportunities and consequently ease a budget crunch at the Illinois Racing Board, the funding of which depends to a great extent on account-wagering handle.

Equally important is the resolution the legislation would provide to an impasse in how money collected by the state from the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. A 1999 Illinois law required that 15 percent of adjusted gross revenue produced by the 10th and final casino permitted to operate in Illinois be directed to the state’s horse racing industry. After years of delays, that casino opened in July 2011, but the money appropriated by the state of Illinois according to the 1999 law never was released from an escrow account. The bill that passed the House on Sunday would use most of the $109 million that has been collected from the casino for school construction, with about $23 million going to horse racing interests.

The bill must pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Pat Quinn to become law. The spring legislative session ends May 31.