Illinois Senate panel looks at internet gaming

One day after the NCAA men's basketball championship -- for which millions of dollars were bet illegally via off-shore, online betting sites - Illinois lawmakers grappled on Tuesday with how the state would legalize internet sports gambling.

This summer, the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether a federal ban on internet gaming should be lifted or kept in place. On Tuesday, an Illinois Senate committee heard testimony from MLB and NBA officials on the gaming issue.

"Our biggest concerns are integrity concerns, fans love coming to our games because they're spontaneous, they're unscripted, players are performing at their absolute best. We need to ensure that sports betting, which can be a threat to that, is not a threat to that here in Illinois," said Bryan Seeley, MLB senior VP.

Professional sports knows there is a lot of money at stake. Illegal betting is estimated to rake in hundreds of billions of dollars.

"If a company is taking bets on our games and using our games and our interests and our players is the whole backbone for their business, it makes sense for us to be compensated for that too," said Dan Spillane, NBA senior VP.

The NBA and MLB are proposing a 1-percent fee go to the leagues to monitor betting and prevent corruption.

"We have had corruption in our game in the past, we have has scandals, we have had scandals here in Chicago with the Black Sox many years ago so it's certainly something we are worried about," Seeley said.

Gambling opponents told lawmakers they need to look at the impact legalized gambling could pose, and not just the potential income.

"It's well-established also that the tax payer costs are three dollars to seven dollars for every one dollar in benefits from legalized gambling of this sort," said John Kindt, University of Illinois professor.
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