Legalized Sports Betting in Illinois Will Mean Higher Taxes, Gas Price Hikes

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:

On the surface, Illinois looked like the hippest state in the union this week, legalizing everything from sports wagering at Wrigley Field, to slot machines placement at O'Hare to recreational use of marijuana.  What could possibly go wrong?

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For starters, this all comes at a cost.

All of this will be paid for in part with tax increases on everyday citizens.  This includes a doubling of the state’s gas tax and increases in vehicle registration fees as well as expanding the state sales tax to Internet purchases.

While marijuana users might be celebrating, cigarette smokers and those who vape will not be.  A $1 tax will be added onto a pack of cigarettes and eCigaretts will also be taxed.

Illinois is also poised to become the "Las Vegas of the Midwest" with casino development somewhere in Chicago.  Few who live there seem to want it in their neighborhood.

The state is “headed down a path that relies heavily on tax-weary citizens to finance grand plans, without addressing root causes of its financial distress”, an editorial in the Kane County Chronicle reads.

Lawmakers in the state passed these sweeping reforms in both the House and Senate via a weekend extension of the legislative session. They passed a $40.1 billion fiscal 2020 budget and a $45 billion infrastructure plan widely praised by credit rating analysts.

Now comes the hangover.

Illinois gas taxes haven’t been touched in decades, and drivers are likely to get hit hard this summer.

“Illinois is going from one of the lower gas taxes in the region to one of the highest,” Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy.com founder, said.

Illinois residents will be paying the highest gas prices in the nation

The gas tax will double from 19 cents to 38 cents per gallon beginning July 1.

As if that weren't bad enough, some cities have the option of tacking on another 3 cents a gallon.

There is also that $50 annual increase in vehicle registration fees beginning in 2020.

“It doesn’t matter who it is, this is going to add up to several hundred dollars no matter what is parked in the garage at night,” DeHaan said.

Those partaking in Illinois' gambling expansion will likely have to chip in paying taxes on their winnings to the state.  That's in addition to federal taxes.  Anyone who wins more than $600 in a single year (or on a bet valued at 300 times the initial wager) must pay taxes. Any and all winnings – from the lottery to bets placed at sportsbooks to slots at O'Hare Airport – must be reported when you file your taxes.

And then there's the question of where to locate the new Chicago casino.

A casino in Chicago will most likely need to be tied to an entertainment district or else urban blight could occur

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday he would prefer a newly-allowed Chicago casino be located separately from the downtown business district and away from McCormick Place.

The Governor won’t have much of a say, however.  That task belongs to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City Council.

Some of those sites mentioned lack convenient highway access.

Chicago, with all its crime, also doesn't need another neighborhood resembling the urban blight found in Atlantic City.

“If the casino doesn’t anchor an entertainment center, it’s really just a concrete cash register,” Pritzkere said. “It draws people, but they don’t spend much outside of the casino.”

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com

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