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Illinois lawmakers host hearing on online gambling, sports betting

Illinois lawmakers hold hearing on online gambling, sports betting.{p}{/p}
Illinois lawmakers hold hearing on online gambling, sports betting.

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The Illinois legislature held a hearing on online gambling and sports betting Wednesday.

Online gaming is a billion dollar industry and state officials said sports betting could generate around $100 million for the state.

Many people have different views on the topic.

Lawmakers, industry stakeholders, and residents discussed the possibility of legalizing online betting and sports gambling Wednesday afternoon.

"Would allow gambling over the internet, on cell phones, on tablets. It would also have internet sports gambling and internet fantasy sports gambling," Executive Director of the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, Anita Bedell said.

Bedell is an advocate for helping those battling alcohol and addiction problems. While she's opposed to sports betting, many are supporting it.

"A significant opportunity to generate revenues and create employment," Representative for the Idea Growth Association, Jim Ryan said.

Ryan works in the online gaming marketplace in New Jersey. Based on research from other states, he believes Illinois has a great opportunity to make money, estimating $432 for online gaming alone.

"If an objective of the committee is to generate revenue, sports betting is doing half the job. The casino and poker marketplace are equal in size, if not larger than sports betting," Ryan said.

Those against this idea said Illinois becoming a hub for sports gambling would be damaging for the state.

"It would impact families, children, especially young men who are more susceptible to this type of gambling," Bedell said.

Industry stakeholders said there's several gaming controls to prevent people from getting into trouble.

"Allow them to limit the session time on a site, allow them to limit the amount of money they deposit," Ryan said.

"Very insidious and it's just not something we need in Illinois," Bedell said.

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Wednesday's hearing was just for testimony. No action was taken.

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