Illinois Rep. Robert Rita Says He is Ready to Debate Online Poker

Illinois State Rep. Robert Rita, leader of the House subcommittees on Gaming, Sales and Other Taxes, is looking to legalize online poker in his state before the end of 2018. Rita has lined up two hearings to discuss online gambling later this year and intends to bring five years of his work to the debate.

In a recent press release, Rita said he hopes the hearings will help his fellow lawmakers understand the changing online gambling landscape and how it presents new opportunities for his state to meet budget needs.

The first of the two hearings are scheduled for later this month, while the second is set for October 3, just before the fall veto session. Rita will use both hearings to push for statewide gambling expansions before the focus shifts to the November elections.

Online gambling legislation was first introduced in Illinois by Sen. Terry Link back in 2013. The legislation came in the form of an amendment to another bill and included regulations for online casino gaming and poker. The bill failed to garner enough support.

After that initial attempt failed, Link continued to reintroduce similar legislation in 2014, 2015, and 2016. However, it was not until 2017 that the effort found any success, passing the Senate by a surprising margin of 42-10. It was a bill to regulate online poker, casino games, and daily fantasy sports, but it arrived in the House too late in the session for a vote.

Rita plans to keep the spark of success from the Senate alive this year with the potential of $700 million in new revenue for state coffers.

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