Representative Robert Rita Ready to Debate Online Poker in Illinois

August 6th, 2018 | by Kaycee James

Online poker in Illinois could become a reality thanks to the recent repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and state representative Robert Rita.

Robert Rita online gaming.

Illinois state representative Robert Rita is pushing the agenda as online gaming legislation takes shape. (Image: calumettownshipil.com)

Continuing what’s become a five-year push for regulation of the online gaming industry, Rita announced on July 31 that the first of two hearings will take place this month. Since becoming leader of the Illinois House subcommittees on Gaming, and Sales and Other Taxes in 2013, Rita admits the industry has changed significantly.

“I want to use these hearings to understand how those changes present new opportunities for us to put the right package together as we look to meet budget needs and provide a spark for our economy,” Rita said in his press release.

A Five-Year Fight for Regulation

The second hearing will take place October 3 ahead of the fall veto session. In announcing the hearings, the Democrat said that he hopes to build enough support for expansions across the entire gambling industry ahead of the November voting period.

Illinois’ fight for legal online gaming started in 2013 with an amendment to senate bill 1739. Sponsored by Senator Terry Link, the bill aimed to regulate online casino gaming and poker, as well as increase the number of brick and mortar venues within the state.

Despite initial optimism, the bill died, as did subsequent attempts in 2014, 2015 and 2016. But in something of an unexpected twist, the Senate moved in favor of House bill H 479 on the final day of the voting session in June 2017.

Rita to Build on Recent Support

Passing by a margin of 42-10, the bill would have legalized online gaming and daily fantasy sports within the state. However, with no time for the House to cast a vote, it fell by the wayside.

With apparent support from at least one side of the legislative divide, Rita wants to parlay this into positive action later this year. However, despite admitting the proposed changes could add as much as $700 million to the state coffers, he’s urged caution and suggested operators will have to make certain concessions.

“As you navigate through this, when you move one component it moves three others and you got to carefully navigate through this to put a bill together and we’ve been working diligently on that,” Rita continued.

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