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Issue Date: Vol. 52, No. 8, August 2012, Posted On: 7/24/2012


Illinois: Poker Operators Get 30-Day Warning; VLT Market Size Could Be 50% Bigger


by Staff Reporter
TAGS: Illinois 2009 Video Gaming Act, operator-run video lottery, VLT, video lottery terminal, video poker, amusement operator, amusement vendor, bar gambling machine, Illinois Gaming Board, WLS-TV, Ravi Baichwal, Nicky Nichols, Redman Gaming

SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Operators of illegal video poker machines in Illinois have 30 days to shut down their equipment before they are subject to felony indictments, the Illinois Gaming Board warned on July 20. The notice applies to simply having the devices in their possession, and whether or not any illegal payoffs are associated with their poker machines.

Meanwhile, Illinois's authorized operator-run video lottery machines are expected to go online next month. And the number of machines could eventually reach 75,000, according to a story by WLS-TV, a local ABC News affiliate. | SEE STORY

While acknowledging that only 18 venues had been licensed for VLTs at presstime, WLS-TV reporter Ravi Baichwal said a "reliable source" at the Illinois Gaming Board said board officials expect that some 15,000 liquor establishments alone will eventually apply for VLT licenses. Since one location is permitted up to five VLTs, "that could mean 75,000 video gaming terminals in the not too distant future," Baichwal stated.

Vending Times and other industry sources have previously estimated a smaller potential VLT market size. The 2009 Video Gaming Act, which created the VLT market, restricts gaming terminals to bars and taverns that serve liquor for on-premise consumption. Illinois has approximately 21,000 locations that meet those criteria. Conservatively estimating an average of three or fewer units per site, the resulting installed base could be around 50,000 VLTs. | SEE STORY

That original estimate was based on the assumption that Greater Chicago, the state's largest population center, would legalize VLTs. However, Chicago's participation in the VLT market now appears unlikely since Mayor Rahm Emanuel has repeatedly, and recently, voiced strong opposition.

To date, some 150 Illinois cities, towns, counties and other jurisdictions have opted out of the VLT market; fewer than 100 have opted in.

Separately, the IGB has rejected the applications for operator licenses by seven different local businesses, all linked to Louisiana video poker king Nicky Nichols of Redman Gaming (Kenner, LA), said the Chicago Tribune. No reason was given for the rejections.


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