As gambling initiatives unfold across the U.S., the Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFG) closely scrutinizes developments, particularly in Illinois. Governor J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to raise the tax on legal sports betting from 15% to 35% has sparked contentious debate, with the Sports Betting Alliance (SBA) vehemently opposing the measure.

Questionable lobbying tactics:

According to The Campaign for Fairer Gambling via PR Newswire, the SBA, comprising industry giants like FanaticsDraft KingsFanDuel (Flutter), and BetMGM (Entain), has mobilized against Gov. Pritzker’s proposed tax hike. Operating under the banner “Why It Matters,” the SBA’s lobbying efforts lack substantiation, prompting skepticism from CFG regarding the validity of their claims.

CFG challenges the SBA’s assertion that higher taxes would result in worse odds for players. A chart accompanying CFG’s statement illustrates that New York’s higher tax rate has not adversely affected hold, countering the SBA’s narrative.

According to PR Newswire, Derek Webb, founder and funder of CFG, emphasizes the importance of evidence-based advocacy in the gambling industry. Drawing parallels with the UK’s history of misleading representations by gambling trade bodies, Webb urges caution against relying on globally notorious gambling companies.

In an opionion piece for the State Journal-Register, lawyer Jeff Ifra, who specializes in online gaming and sports betting law and is the founding partner of Ifrah Law based in Washington, D.C., said: “Raising the tax rate on sports betting is akin to subsidizing the illegal, offshore sportsbooks that Illinois state lawmakers sought to eliminate when they legalized and regulated sports betting. Given that legal sportsbooks operate on thin margins, they cannot simply absorb this massive tax increase.

It will force Illinois betting operators to offer less favorable odds and reduce promotions, effectively raising the costs to consumers. Legal sports betting has only begun to dent Illinois’ robust illegal sports betting scene significantly, and these changes will inevitably push bettors back into the arms of illegal bookies, said Ifra.

The result? Lower — not higher — tax revenues for Illinois as more bets are placed outside the regulated framework.”

The lawyer added: “Rather than jeopardize the progress made in the legal sports betting market, Illinois should explore more effective revenue-raising solutions like legalizing online casino gaming. By embracing smarter fiscal strategies, Illinois can ensure a prosperous future for its residents and businesses alike.”

Promoting balanced policy:

CFG’s mission revolves around advancing a bipartisan, evidence-based gambling reform agenda. With a commitment to fostering a balanced and informed debate on gambling issues nationwide, CFG aims to provide policymakers and the public with trustworthy data.

As the debate over gambling regulations intensifies, CFG stands as a voice for evidence-based reform. By challenging misleading narratives and advocating for balanced policy decisions, CFG strives to ensure transparency and accountability in the gambling industry.