Illinois Governor Banking On Sports Betting To Fill Budget Holes
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is "counting on" $200M in licensing fees from legalized sports wagering to help plug a $3.2B hole in next year's state budget, but years of "failed efforts to expand gambling in Illinois suggest his plan is no sure thing," according to a front-page piece by Dan Petrella of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Pritzker last week called on lawmakers to "set aside their squabbles over new casinos and expanded betting options at horse tracks that have derailed previous gambling expansion measures, and pass a stand-alone bill to legalize wagering on sporting events." If lawmakers "act quickly, Illinois could be the first Midwestern state to do so." Pritzker's proposal has "yet to be put into bill form," but his plan "calls for creating 20 licenses for in-person or online sports betting that the state would sell" for $10M apiece. Companies granted licenses under the plan would be able to deduct up to $1.8M from what they "owe in sports wagering taxes for the first five years." Operators would also "pay a $5,000 annual renewal fee." Pritzker's plan also calls for a 20% "tax on sportsbooks' gross wagering revenue." If the state creates 20 licenses as Pritzker has proposed, each of Illinois' 10 casinos and three horse tracks "could be licensed to take bets" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/24).
DROPPING THE ISSUE: In DC, Nirappil & DeBonis note U.S. Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.) "raised objections" to DC's plan to "award a sole source contract to run the city's new and potentially lucrative venture into online sports gambling." However, after concerns were made public Friday, U.S. Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said that she had "persuaded him to drop the matter." Norton tweeted that she had spoken to Clay and that he is "not pursuing the inquiry." One of Norton's aides said that she believes Clay is "no longer seeking a response from the city" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/23).
RINGING ENDORSEMENT: In New Hampshire, Nick Stoico noted Gov. Chris Sununu earlier this month "voiced his support for legislation that would make betting on sports games legal under the supervision of the state's lottery commission." The bill's leading sponsor, State Rep. Timothy Lang, said that it was a "pleasant surprise to 'hear the shout-out from the governor.'" He added that HB480 would "legalize betting on professional sports and the majority" of D-I sports, but games involving New Hampshire colleges "would be excluded." The bill would "allow both mobile and retail gambling in the state" (CONCORD MONITOR, 2/24).