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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 6, June 2010, Posted On: 5/15/2010

Crime Commission, Gaming Chief Slam ICMOA-Backed Poker Bill

Marcus Webb
Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, ICMOA, video poker, video lottery, video gambling, video gaming terminal, Illinois gaming, Illinois gambling, Chicago Crime Commission, Illinois Gaming Board, Video Gaming Act, penny video poker

SPRINGFIELD, IL -- The Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association is supporting a bill to amend Illinois' Video Gaming Act to permit "penny video poker" machines and 24-hour gambling on VLTs in truckstops, among other measures. According to the Chicago Tribune, the measure, sponsored by Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan), was passed by the state Senate 42-11 on May 5, but the House draft, HB 4927, stalled on May 7.

The bill's sudden loss of momentum was caused by sharp criticism from officials of the Illinois Gaming Board and the Chicago Crime Commission. IGB chairman Aaron Jaffe said the bill "would allow people who have been operating machines illegally for all these years to continue" under the planned legal market -- contrary to the board's regulations announced in January.

Even some state senators who had voted for the bill said Jaffe's concerns should "put the brakes on" its passage. However, ICMOA lobbyist Zack Stamp said Jaffe misunderstood the intent of the bill.

On May 7, Art Bilek, executive director of the Chicago Crime Commission, charged that the gambling industry and its legislative allies were using "Al Capone" tactics to enact "unsavory legislation" that would "profoundly expand gambling in Illinois." The commission director said HB 4927 was introduced in a last-minute rush under a "veil of secrecy," and was hidden within an unrelated measure to regulate nursing homes in an effort to "ram through" the changes.

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