Rebuild Illinois initiative paves the way for gaming expansion

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has given the thumbs up to a $45bn ‘Rebuild Illinois’ action plan which is set to pave the way for regulated sports betting and gaming expansion across the state. 

Expected to be “the most robust capital plan in Illinois history”, the new plan is estimated to generate 540,000 new jobs across the state, as well as facilitate improvements in roads, bridges, railways, universities, early childhood centres and state facilities.

The Rebuild Illinois package brings together four bills, with Pritzker explaining: “With this historic $45 billion capital plan, we’re fixing decades-long problems, creating good jobs, improving communities for the next generation – and doing it together, across party lines.

“The Rebuild Illinois plan transforms our state’s approach to transportation infrastructure, finally treating our roads, bridges, and railways like 21st century investments and not relics of the past. 

“We’re also making critical investments in our higher education institutions, our crime lab and veterans’ homes, early childhood centres, and expanding broadband access to communities across Illinois. 

“With these investments, we’re creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of new jobs in our state. This is more than an infrastructure plan. This is a job creation plan the likes of which our state has never seen.”

The bill in question will see the state give the green light to the development of six new land-based casinos in Waukegan, Rockford, the South Suburbs, Williamson County, Danville and Chicago, which currently has no such facility, with slots also to be added at the Midway and O’Hare Airports.

The authorisation is expected to generate $58m-102m annually, which will be distributed towards a number of infrastructure projects across Illinois, with all licensees permitted to go online immediately upon being licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board. 

For the first 18 months after the first licensee is operating, all accounts must be set up at a licensed gaming facility, and within 540 days of the first license being awarded, the regulator can accept applications for one of three online sports wagering operator licenses, which would command a $20m fee and be renewable after four years for a further $1m.  

A 15 per cent tax rate on gross wagering per month is to be issued, with official league data permitted but betting on Illinois college teams is strictly forbidden.

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