Capitol News Illinois staff
SPRINGFIELD — The state of Illinois could see $100 million in increased annual revenue by legalizing sports gambling, according to a joint report released this week by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the University of Illinois Project for Middle Class Renewal.
The topic has been on the table since a May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision paved the way for states to legalize gambling. Ten states already have done so, according to the report.
The report also said legalized sports gambling would increase gaming industry revenues by $565 million annually; create more than 2,500 new jobs at nearly 90 licensed locations in Illinois; shrink the illegal black market for sports betting; fund programs that treat gambling addiction; and fund public investments in education and infrastructure.
“However, the tax revenues from sports betting will not solve Illinois’ fiscal issues and should be weighed against the potential costs of gambling addiction,” the report said.
Several other states have introduced legislation to legalize gambling since the Supreme Court decision. In Illinois, the gambling legalization bills were introduced last session by Sen. Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) and Rep. Tim Butler (R-Peoria). Harris has reintroduced his proposal this session.
The ILEPI report said both of those bills had flaws, and cited a ProPublica report which showed a video gaming expansion passed in the state has generated less revenue than expected.
“The investigative (ProPublica) report should be a reminder to both lawmakers and voters that assumptions matter in forecasting economic activity and tax revenue. The study is also a reminder that gaming expansions are not panaceas that can resolve Illinois’ fiscal issues,” the ILEPI report said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during the campaign that he would support legalization and regulation of sports gambling.