* Many of the existing casinos want this new online gaming provision stuck inside the gaming expansion bill. Yes, it’ll cost them each $20 million up front, but the profits could be huge…
The debate over gambling in Illinois is expanding, from the well-worn arguments over new casinos and slots at Arlington Park to now whether every of-age Illinoisan should be allowed to gamble over the Internet.
Internet gambling could bring blackjack and craps to anyone who wants it, taking advantage of smartphone apps and an increasingly connected culture to let people play at any time or place. […]
This time, Internet gambling has been added to Link’s legislation. Under the plan, Illinois casino or track owners could operate gambling websites in addition to their traditional operations, and the new money they’d produce for the state largely would go toward paying down Illinois’s massive pension debt.
Only Illinoisans over 21 years old could play on Illinois sites, and an online gambling license would cost a casino owner $20 million up front.
* Meanwhile, Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones is under fire again…
Then there’s Chicago-based Independent Gaming Research, which used to be named Independent Lottery Research and used to be co-run by Mr. Jones until he divested his interest when he became lottery chief.
Internal memos I’ve obtained from a source who does not want to be named indicate that Mr. Jones persuaded Northstar to hire ILR as a contractor just a month after he took the job. But the lottery reversed the decision amid concerns over the ethical appearance thereof. I’m also told—by Mr. Jones and others—that Northstar since has hired ILR/IGR for considerable work in Illinois.
Mr. Jones says the state was getting bad research from other vendors, so he pushed for a replacement he knew and trusted. When Northstar raised the ethical concerns, he says he backed off. And he cheerfully concedes to promoting “a local company” to other lottery directors around the world. “I want a Chicago company to do well.”
Mr. Jones charges that all of this dirty laundry is coming from Gtech, which declines to comment. He says Gtech is the real reason the state’s ballyhooed move to sell lottery tickets on the Internet has flopped, with sales only recently hitting $100,000 a week. “The Internet portal they had was not intuitive . . . (it was) too difficult for customers to maneuver.”