Illinois may turn to expanding gaming as a way to raise revenue in the cash-strapped state.
From slot machines to video gaming to horse races, there are already many ways to gamble in Illinois.
But more options may be coming including sports betting, where people can bet on live sporting events like games.
Sports betting has been going on for years in Nevada but was largely outlawed in all other states.
That was until a Supreme Court ruling in May made it possible for any state to legalize sports betting.
“If other states are going to allow for it, Illinois should allow for it too,” says Mike Zalewski, a Democratic Illinois State Representative from the Chicago area.
He is among those who support a move to expand gaming in Illinois to include sports betting.
Hearings have already happened in Chicago and just last week in Springfield.
Zalewski says sports betting in Illinois would raise millions for the state through taxes on bets lost by players.
“We`re a state that desperately needs some cash infusion for either capital needs or we need it for a pension crisis or we need it for just general out bringing,” explained Zalewski.
Jon Sloane, a spokesperson for the Fairmount Park, says the track supports bringing sports betting to places like Fairmount Park“Anything which will bring increased revenues to Fairmount Park we are in for, we`re absolutely for it. That will mean more jobs, more racing dates, more revenues for everybody,” said Sloane.
But some oppose the idea.
Anita Bedell, the Executive Director of a group called Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, testified against sports betting at the Springfield hearing.
“Anytime you legalize more forms of gambling and legalize and make it accessible 24 hours a day seven days a week, you are going to increase problem gamblers, addiction, you`re going to have underage gamblers,” said Bedell.
A total of six states have now legalized sports betting.
Besides Illinois, Missouri lawmakers have also discussed the issue but nothing has been finalized.
All of this is still in the preliminary stages.
Supporters expect the issue to start picking up steam after the upcoming elections.
A formal proposal will likely happen early next year.