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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 5, May 2010, Posted On: 4/8/2010

Chicago Councilmember Predicts Video Poker Approval

by Staff Reporter
Chicago Alderman John Pope, video lottery terminal, VLT, video poker, Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, Back to Work Illinois, Greg Goldner

CHICAGO -- Alderman John Pope (10th Ward) said he expects that a "large majority" of Chicago's council members will vote to permit video lottery terminals in the city. Chicago's lifting its current gambling ban is considered crucial to the viability of a statewide VLT market in Illinois.

"We're interested in putting people to work; we're interested in putting money in people's pockets; and, honestly, we're interested in legalizing what is happening already," Pope was quoted as saying in The New York Times.

To date, more than 70 Illinois jurisdictions have opted out of the planned VLT market, but estimates show that these towns, cities and counties represent 10% or fewer of the state's population. Gov. Pat Quinn and pro-VLT lawmakers hope legalized video gambling will generate up to $500 million in taxes every year from more than 40,000 slot-style games.

The new VLT market in Illinois, which will allow independent operators to run games, was legalized last summer by legislators and the governor. Deployment of machines, which will be taxed at 30%, is expected to begin by the end of 2010. Up to five terminals can be installed in businesses that have licenses to sell liquor for onsite consumption.

The Times said VLT manufacturers and the Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association had reportedly raised $700,000 to fund a pro-VLT lobbying group called Back to Work Illinois. Greg Goldner, a former staff member in Mayor Daley's administration, heads the organization.

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