SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Gov. Pat Quinn, who was the leading proponent of last year's Illinois Video Gaming Act, is expected to sign the so-called "trailer bill" that would expand the planned video lottery market to include penny slot-type devices and permit VLTs in 800 additional locations statewide. New added locations include fraternal organizations, veterans' posts and truckstops, among other venues not covered in the original bill. The state Legislature passed the expansion bill in May (see story).
Separately, gaming industry analyst Brian McGill of Janney Montgomery Scott delivered some good news to Illinois's amusement industry. McGill said the Chicago City Council is expected to approve local participation in the planned VLT market -- but not until after the November elections are over.
Chicago's participation has long been considered essential to Illinois's gambling program's financial viability and political success. But Mayor Richard Daley has not come forward as a strong and active supporter of legal poker as originally expected. However, key council members have indicated support for participation in the market.
Additional encouragement for the industry came when a former FBI agent, Walter B. Stowe Jr., endorsed the Video Gaming Act as a good way to regulate video gambling. In a letter to the Chicago Daily Herald, Stowe said Illinois currently has 60,000 unregulated and untaxed video poker machines. Stowe, the former Associate Special Agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago field office, said regulation was not without challenges, but that close government supervision and taxation was on balance far preferable to the current state of affairs.
The state's video gaming market is expected to launch late this year or early 2011. It could include up to five gaming machines in liquor-licensed establishments including bars, restaurants, clubs and truckstops.
Supporters hope the Video Gaming Act will eventually create a statewide market of up to 50,000 operator-run video lottery games generating up to $1.5 billion in annual revenues. Some $250 million to $500 million a year would be paid in taxes.