Illinois’ online sports betting landscape faces upheaval as major players like FanDuel and DraftKings confront the repercussions of a significant tax increase. Governor J.B. Pritzker defends the move, asserting the state’s right to a larger share of the booming $1 billion industry.

Navigating tax turbulence:

The Illinois General Assembly’s approval of a graduated tax system has sent shockwaves through the online sports betting sector. FanDuel and DraftKings, giants in the industry, are bracing themselves for a substantial increase in taxation, with rates soaring to a staggering 40%, up from the previous 15% flat rate. This development has prompted both companies to reassess their operations within the state, sparking debate over the fairness of the tax hike.

Governor Pritzker stands firm on the state’s decision, emphasizing the need for online sports betting companies to contribute their “fair share” to Illinois’ revenue stream. While FanDuel and DraftKings express concerns over the financial implications of the tax hike, experts caution against overestimating the likelihood of these companies pulling out of the lucrative Illinois market.

According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Victor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross, dismisses the notion of FanDuel and DraftKings abandoning Illinois as a mere bluff. He argues that the companies, having amassed substantial profits, should bear the responsibility of contributing to the state’s coffers. Despite initial stock price dips in response to the tax increase, the long-term impact on the companies’ operations remains uncertain.

Legislative battles:

The Sports Betting Alliance, comprising lobbyists from major oddsmakers like DraftKings and FanDuel, mounted significant opposition against the proposed tax hike during Illinois’ legislative session. The measure, part of Governor Pritzker’s budget plan, faced resistance from Republican lawmakers and some Democrats concerned about its potential adverse effects on the industry.

Under the newly approved tax system, sportsbooks will be subject to a tiered taxation scheme based on their revenue. The highest tax bracket, at 40%, applies to earnings beyond $200 million. This structure disproportionately affects FanDuel and DraftKings, the only sportsbooks in Illinois to surpass the $100 million revenue mark last year.

Jeremy Kudon, president of the Sports Betting Alliance, decries the tax hike as detrimental to operators’ investments and job creation efforts in Illinois, stating:

“This tax hike doesn’t just threaten the legal, regulated sports betting market — it will have devastating effects for operators’ in-state partners, including the most vulnerable downstate casinos, who rely on sports betting revenue to create jobs and invest in communities,”

Despite industry pushback, Governor Pritzker’s office defends the graduated tax system as essential for ensuring corporations contribute equitably to Illinois’ fiscal well-being.

As Illinois grapples with the aftermath of the tax increase, stakeholders await further developments in the evolving landscape of online sports betting. While tensions between the state and industry leaders persist, the ultimate impact on Illinois’ sports betting market remains uncertain. As the debate continues, Governor Pritzker’s administration remains steadfast in its commitment to securing a fair deal for Illinois taxpayers.