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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No.1, January 2010, Posted On: 12/26/2009

Gray Poker Operators Can't Run Legal VLTs, Vows Top Illinois Official

by Staff Reporter
gray area poker machines, gray area poker machine operators, Illinois video lottery terminal, video poker, Illinois Video Gaming Act, Illinois Gaming Board, Aaron Jaffe, Pat Quinn, Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, coin-op, amusement machines, tavern games, Incredible Technologies, Magic Touch

SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Operators who have been prosecuted or fined for running gray-area pokers will be excluded from participating in Illinois' planned legal video lottery market, according to the top official of the state's gaming board.

Illinois Gaming Board chairman Aaron Jaffe announced his intent to establish this policy at a Dec. 16 meeting of the regulatory organization. Jaffe told The Chicago Sun-Times: "It's my personal opinion that if you're in the gambling racket today illegally, you shouldn't be able to operate legally [when the Video Gaming Act takes effect]... I will promise you that we will have the strictest rule that we possibly can have on this particular subject."

Jaffe said the IGB will need to perform "a lot of research" to determine how many current operators have been prosecuted and fined. This research may be time- consuming and difficult because past enforcement actions have been handled by multiple authorities, ranging from local police to the state liquor control board.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Video Gaming Act in July, clearing the way for an estimated 40,000 regulated video lottery terminals to come online by late 2010 or early 2011. The act tasks the IGB with promulgating detailed regulations for the video lottery market. The poker legalization measure was strongly supported by the Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association.

According to the Sun-Times, some 21,000 video pokers are currently licensed in Illinois as "amusement only" devices; an estimated 40,000 unlicensed pokers are also on location. But tens of thousands of locations make illegal cash payoffs to winning players of both licensed and unlicensed pokers, the paper said.

In other news, Illinois-based Incredible Technologies (Arlington Heights), the nation's top maker coin-op video games, received regulatory approval in November from Gaming Laboratories International for its Magic Touch gaming platform. The product runs video slot, poker and keno games. IT could apply for a state license to manufacture video lottery terminals in Illinois. Ironically, the Arlington Heights city council voted last week to opt out of the legal VLT market, the latest of more than 40 jurisdictions to do so.

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