06/07/2013 4:26PM

Illinois to resume account wagering


Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn late Friday afternoon signed into law a bill that allows account wagering providers to resume taking bets from Illinois residents.

Illinois account wagering has been shut down since January, when the legislature failed to renew the licenses of the state's four online bet-takers: XpressBet, TVG, Betzotic, and Twinspires.

Account-holders were immediately permitted to begin betting online again Friday. Reasons for the legislature's inaction in January remain unclear, and it is possible the same issue will arise again next winter, since the bill that became law Friday expires in January 2014.
The Illinois Racing Board has issued immediate temporary licenses to online bet-takers. The racing board meets June 25 and can then fully license the companies to do business for the next seven months.

The passage of the bill also positively affects the racing board, which was facing a budgeting squeeze because of the cessation of account-wagering, taxes from which partially fund the board.

The legislation also addresses the distribution of $23.5 million collected since July 2011 from the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines that will be doled out to Illinois racing interests on July 1. Racing interests were originally supposed to receive the entire 15 percent of adjusted gross receipts from the casino - part of an agreement to allow riverboat casinos to become land-based - but the legislature refused to appropriate the entire amount for the Horseracing Equity Fund, eventually striking a deal to put the majority of the money toward schools. The original law still is on the books, and money still is being diverted from the casino to a government account, and as with account wagering, the issue could arise again in 2014. The $23.5 million will be split between Thoroughbreds (57 percent) and Standardbreds (43 percent), and split again 50-50 between purses and track operators.