Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed sports betting into law on Friday in Springfield. Now, this means bettors will soon be able to place their bets at casinos, racetracks, and stadiums to place their bets. Within a year, the state may even have legalized mobile betting.
After a long-and-winding road of uncertainty, the time is finally here, and there’s even a plan to bring a state-of-the-art casino to Chicago.
“Together we passed the largest, most robust capital plan in this state’s history,” Pritzker said. “We’re investing $45 billion over six years to fix what’s broken and repair what’s needed.”
This bill looked as if it would never come together, but the final days of the legislative session proved to be a wild, yet successful, journey. Representatives and Senators from each side met and had to agree to combine sports betting with a larger casino expansion bill the Senate had been trying to push for more than 10 years.
“It became evident that if we wanted to pass sports betting, it would have to be part of a larger package,” said Rep. Bob Rita. “There were fears the bill would be too large to pass and topple on its own weight, but sports betting was the component everyone had interest in so it was able to glue everything together.”
The idea of a Chicago casino has previously been a headache for mayors and state lawmakers alike. However, this casino would be authorized to have up to 4,000 gambling positions, which is three times as many as any of the state’s 10 existing casinos – most of those locations will now be able to increase from 1,200 to 2,000. In addition, there would be five other new casinos in Waukegan, Rockford, Danville, Downstate Williamson County, and an undetermined south suburban Cook County location.
Money from the proposed Chicago casino would be split into thirds – the city, state, and private owner. The city’s cut would be designated for police and fire pensions.
Betting in Illinois has been going on illegally, as Chicago has historically been a prominent home to such activities for over a century. Now, the state can finally get in on the action and use this money for things like bridges, roads, and schools.