Poker News

The Illinois State Senate President suggested to the state’s legislators Tuesday that it may be time to look at legalizing and regulating online poker in the Land of Lincoln. With no states having intrastate online poker up and running yet, Sen. John Cullerton (D) wants Illinois to jump at the opportunity to be the online poker center of the United States.

Sen. Cullerton penned a letter to Governor Pat Quinn and the members of the Illinois General Assembly, urging them to pass a bill before the legislative session ends May 31st. Aside from competition with other states (namely Nevada, which may have intrastate online poker sites active by the end of the year), Sen. Cullerton fears the possibility of eventual federal regulation that could stop states from creating their own online gaming networks if they haven’t done so before legislation is passed.

Sen. Cullerton appears to have an understanding of online poker, writing, in part, “Certain forms of iGaming, especially poker, rely on large pools of potential players, and states that move swiftly to design a system that captures the widest audience of participants will have an advantage in terms of long-range success.”

As usual, not all of Sen. Cullerton’s colleagues are thrilled with the idea. Naturally, one of the opposition voices came from the Republican side of the aisle. Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno, said, “If you allow Internet poker to be sanctioned by the state of Illinois, there are a whole lot of questions that need to be answered. Being first isn’t necessarily a good thing.”

Sen. Cullerton wishes to create an internet gaming division controlled by the Illinois Lottery, something that could make sense. Illinois was the first state to sell individual lottery tickets online, launching internet lottery sales on Sunday, March 25th. The timing was perfect for the Illinois Lottery, as that was the week of the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot, partially won by a Red Bud, Illinois family. While it has been reported that Illinois was the first state to allow internet sales of lottery tickets period, that is not the case. Some states, such as Minnesota and North Dakota, have been selling tickets online, but those tickets are only available in subscription form. That is, people must buy tickets in bulk, committing to recurring purchases for a certain length of time. Illinois appears to be the first state to allow its residents to by single tickets for any drawing, just as one would at a grocery store or gas station.

The first week of internet sales for the Illinois Lottery was a bit of a mixed bag. The timing was perfect, of course, with the record Mega Millions jackpot. With the launch on Sunday and the Mega Millions drawing on Friday night, sales of $425,000 were reported as of 3:00pm Thursday. Friday sales alone reached more than $247,000 by 4:00pm. But even the almost $700,000 total was fairly disappointing to lottery officials, as the big Mega Millions week made them anticipate much more. To top it off, the Illinois Lottery’s website went down for about half an hour on the day of the drawing.

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