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Illinois lawmakers mulling gaming expansion and sports betting

Supporters of gambling expansion say it could bring in $700 million to state coffers annually
Sports betting

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (Illinois News Network) — A state lawmaker pushing for more gambling to help fill the state’s coffers said there’s going to need to be a lot of give-and-take from those within the industry.

State Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, is set to take another shot at getting his gambling expansion bill through the legislature. The last effort to expand gambling before the end of spring session failed to muster enough support.

Rita has hearings scheduled Aug. 22 in Chicago and Oct. 3 in Springfield ahead of the fall veto session.

“Fantasy sports, sports betting, internet gaming, are new components, forms of gaming that have come to the forefront,” Rita said.

The entire package could bring in $700 million to state coffers annually, he said.

Pew Charitable Trusts’ Mary Murphy said policy makers shouldn’t bank on such increased revenue being a steady stream.

“States should consider that these gains may be short-lived in large part because of increased competition, and be cautious of directing this revenue toward ongoing expenditures,” Murphy said.

Regardless, Rita said it’s a difficult process of balancing all the interests.

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

Rita said he hopes the scheduled hearings will build a strong enough consensus on the issue for a possible vote during the fall veto session, which is in November after the midterm election.

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