SPRINGFIELD, IL -- As the amusement industry in Illinois prepares for the statewide launch of video lottery terminals, conceivably in the fourth quarter of 2012, some state legislators are suggesting that more casinos and online video poker should also be legalized.
These potentially new gaming channels could create potent competition for leisure dollars that VLT operators, distributors and manufacturers are hoping will be spent playing their games.
Sen. John Cullerton (D-6th district), president of the Illinois Senate, has sent a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn, and copies to his fellow legislators, suggesting that the Illinois Lottery create a new gaming agency. The Division of Internet Gaming, or DIG, would organize and regulate an online video poker market that caters to players from around the world, the state senator said.
Separately, Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) and Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) are preparing a bill that proposes adding slot machines to racetracks and increasing the number of casinos in Illinois. Danville, Rockford and Waukegan were named as possible casino sites.
A similar bill passed both Houses last year, but it has not been sent to the governor for his signature or veto while back-channel negotiations continue. Quinn has consistently voiced opposition to the Link-Lang bill, but some public opinion polls show that Illinois voters favor the idea two to one.
Notwithstanding casinos, racinos and Internet poker, new gaming competition has already begun. The Illinois Lottery began selling lottery tickets online in March and has so far raked in $1.8 million through Internet sales.