Illinois Governor looks to join other states in legalizing sports betting

Gov. J.B. Pritzker hopes the burgeoning sports-gambling industry will help solve Illinois’ budget troubles

Sports gambling in Southern illinois

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - State by state, the U.S. is slowly legalizing sports betting, and Illinois’s Governor J.B. Pritzker is looking to join in on the industry.

There are eight states that allow you to legally put money on your favorite teams, with Nevada being the first to make it legal way back in 1949. Illinois is also on track to become part of that list.

Governor Pritzker says the sports betting industry will help solve Illinois’ budget troubles, however, lawmakers have a number of hurdles to cross in order to make it happen.

According to political expert John Jackson with Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, the industry of sports gambling is a multi-million dollar industry.

“Millions of people gamble, even though it’s illegal, and billions of dollars are wagered,” Jackson said

Pritzker said during his budget address last month that the state could count on $200 million from legalized sports gambling licensing fees to help fill the state’s $3.2 billion budget hole.

“We already have lots of Casino gambling, we have lots of truck stop and cafe gambling," said Jackson. "So this is not that big of stretch.”

According to Jackson, Illinois legislators need to figure out a few details to move forward.

“Number one, do you have bricks and mortar, real places that you have to physically go to or do you have it online where you can just simply plug in; or do you have a combination of both?" asked Jackson.

Jackson also questions, how much bettors would pay in taxes or even where the betting would take place.

Curtis Conley is the manager of a local sports bar in Carbondale named PK’s Bar.

Conley says the concept is on his radar.

“I’d be certainly interested in looking at it," he said. “We are not a gigantic sports bar here, but there are some other bars in the area that I could probably see it being a big benefit to to them.”

Conley also said he is eager to see this idea come to life.

“I think it’s fun when people can get competitive with friends and other patrons," Conley added. "It would be pretty exciting to see it happen in here and get people excited.”

“We have long been regulating and taxing in the so-called sin-taxes," Jackson said. "That is alcohol for example, cigarettes for examples and gambling for example, for legislators it is a fairly easy vote.”

Once all of those hurdles are written into legislation, then debated in the House and Senate, the governor will sign it, which he has already promised to do.

According to Jackson, in order for this to be finalized for next years budget, then all of this has to happen by the end of spring session at the end of May.

Copyright 2019 KFVS. All rights reserved.