ILLINOIS (IRN) — Expanding gambling to include sports betting was on the table in Springfield with representatives from a couple major sports leagues on hand laying out what they’re looking for. Local video gaming operators were also making their voices heard.
Major League Baseball Deputy General Counsel Bryan Seeley said professional baseball has had a troubled history with sports betting.
“And that certainly informs our views on sports betting now, but we understand that sports betting is coming to this country and so it’s important that Illinois and other states get it right,” Seeley said.
Seeley said the leagues want to make sure that the sport, fans and the games are protected from illegal activity.
The proposal for sports betting from state Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, requires players to be 21 to bet and prohibits betting on Illinois college teams playing in the state. There are other provisions to protect player information and a hotline for confidentially reporting prohibited conduct.
There’d be a 25 percent tax on wagering. Licenses would range from $5 million to $20 million and higher, depending on the class of the licenses. Renewals would be hundreds of thousands of dollars. The measure also includes royalties to be paid to the leagues of which games are being bet on.
National Basketball Association Senior Vice President and Head of Fantasy Gaming Scott Kaufman-Ross said whatever passes in Illinois, it must include mobile sports betting.
“If we are going to be successful in crowding out the offshore market and bringing it into the legal and regulated market, we need to have a full, competitive mobile landscape where people can bet from their smartphones instead of having to drive hours to the nearest brick-and-mortar casino,” Kaufman-Ross said.
Zalewski’s measure includes several types of online sports betting for casinos, horse racing facilities and even video gambling operators.
Taproom Gaming CEO Michael Bond said they’re open to that.
“Could sports betting be an opportunity for our local video gaming establishments, our taverns and restaurants? Yes, we are participating in those conversations,” Bond said.
But Bond also urged lawmakers to oppose plans to increase taxes on video gambling in the process.
“We already pay our fair share, it’s higher than anyone else, and it would, most importantly, have an incredibly harmful effect on the state,” Bond said.
Zalewski’s expansive measure was heard in committee Wednesday.