SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – On Wednesday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced during his budget address that legal sports gambling should be a priority. He also tasked the legislature to find out exactly how they would regulate the new industry. 

Senator Napoleon Harris, III introduced IL SB 0176 last month which would legalize sports wagering in Illinois, but there are more bills expected to come before the session comes to a close. 

Representative Mike Zalewski, Chair of the House Revenue and Finance Committee, plans on unveiling a bill of his own. Zalewski has previous experience when trying to fill out gambling-related legislation and balancing the needs of various stakeholders. He is optimistic that they can get it done this time around.

“It’s a lead to get people in the door. I think it’s something that can unite these different stakeholders in a way that nothing has before. That’s the reason I think it can happen.”

The governor’s party affiliation also gives a huge advantage to proponents of sports betting in Illinois. 

“He’s an incoming Democratic governor who won by a wide amount. Those in our caucus want to give him what he asks for to lead us. To have him ask for sports betting, I think we’ll be supportive of it,” Zalewski said.

In order to fully embrace the governor’s proposal, lawmakers will have to act fast and present their bills in time for them to be passed. The final budget will have to be finished by May of this year when the legislative session ends.

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