ADW Companies Taking Illegal Illinois Wagers

Authorization expired Jan. 1; racing board to refer matter to state attorney general.

By Bob Kieckhefer

At least three of four major advance deposit wagering companies continue to take bets from Illinois residents even though the action is illegal as of the beginning of the year, the Illinois Racing Board said Jan. 3.

Statutory authority for ADW expired at the end of 2012 when the General Assembly failed to approve continuing authorization during its fall session. A "fix" expected to pass this week failed in a Senate committee when leadership attached a surprise multimillion-dollar takeaway from the racing industry on behalf of education. That bill then stalled in committee.

With no specific authorization for ADW, taking bets from Illinois residents could be found to be a felony violation of the Illinois Criminal Code, IRB executive director Marc Laino said. He said the board will refer the matter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan for enforcement.

The ADW firms, he said, sent letters to the IRB after its December meeting, citing legal objections to the board's decision not to license them in the absence of legislation.

Laino did not identify which companies continue to take Illinois bets but said the IRB is monitoring all systems.

An eventual fix likely will authorize ADW retroactively, Laino said, which would make prosecution a moot point. Licensees, however, including some of the nation's biggest racing and gaming operators, risk their future standing with the state should things go awry in the state Capitol.

ADW is one of the few forms of wagering growing in Illinois, accounting for some $122 million in bets during 2012 and $1.75 million in revenue to the state, Laino said.