Ten days after offering his first plan to legalize internet gambling in Illinois, Senator John Cullerton has revised his plan so that it envisions a substantially different sort of regulatory system. The older plan would have given the Illinois Lottery a near monopoly over the internet gambling market. Now, under the new bill, the Lottery would not compete at all.
Formerly, Illinois House Bill 4148 called for the Lottery to serve as both an operator and a regulator of an “internet gaming platform.” The revised bill no longer envisions that the Lottery would directly offer internet gambling opportunities to the public. But the Lottery would still be the regulatory agency for internet gambling, and it would still fulfill its duties by managing an internet gaming “platform.”
A newly created Division of Internet Gaming within the Lottery Department would license operators, called “internet gaming affiliates,” to participate in the platform.
Three classes of entities would be eligible to apply for licenses to become an affiliate of the Lottery’s internet gaming platform:
(i) Any person who holds a valid and unrevoked owners license issued pursuant to the Riverboat Gambling Act;
(ii) Any person who holds a valid and unrevoked organization license issued pursuant to the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975; and
(iii) Any person who holds a valid and unrevoked advance deposit wagering license issued pursuant to the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975.
Applicants would be required to pay a $5 million fee along with their application for licensure.
A summary look at the definitions found in the old and new bills demonstrates how significantly different the new version is. The old version envisioned a Lottery that directly offers internet wagering opportunities, whereas the new version envisions a Lottery that oversees a program in which licensed affiliates offer internet wagering opportunities.
- Old version of definition of internet gaming platform:
“Internet gaming platform” means an interactive set of related data networks that may be accessed by authorized participants for the purpose of wagering on internet games.
- New version of definition for internet gaming platform:
“Internet gaming platform” means an interactive set of related data networks that may be accessed by licensed internat gaming affiliates for the purpose of offering wagering on Internet games to authorized participants.
- Old version of definition of internet wagering:
“Internet wagering” means the placing of wagers with the Division using the Division’s internet gaming platform through which the Division may offer Internet games to persons who have established an Internet wagering account…
- New version of definition of internet wagering:
“Internet wagering” means the placing of wagers using the Division’s internet gaming platform through which licensed Internet gaming affiliates may offer internet games to persons who have established an Internet wagering account…
- The old version of HB 4148 did not conceptualize licensed internet gaming affiliates, but the new version supplies the following definition:
“Licensed internet gaming affiliate” means an individual who is licensed by the Division to offer wagering on Internet games to authorized participants using the Division’s Internet gaming platform.
- Finally, compare the duties of the Division of Internet Gaming under the old plan:
The Division of Internet Gaming is established within the Department of the Lottery, and is authorized to offer Internet wagering on Internet games on the Division’s Internet gaming platform…
- Duties of the Division of Internet gaming under the new plan:
The Division of Internet Gaming is established with the Department of the Lottery, and is authorized to establish an Internet gaming platform that may be accessed by licensed Internet gaming affiliates in order to offer wagering on Internet games….
The legislature has only one week left to approve the bill. Just last week the legislature enacted a bill related to brick-and-mortar gaming. Having those issues out of the way could make negotiating votes for the internet gambling bill easier. Or it could make the prospects of approving an internet gambling bill unlikely. One week will tell.
Click here for the new version of HB 4148 (filed May 25, 2012).