SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill on July 30 that clears the way for more operators to participate in the state's planned video lottery market, unless they have been convicted of past gambling offenses.
The bill (HB 4927), which makes mostly technical changes to the Video Gaming Act, passed the General Assembly last spring over strong opposition from Illinois Gaming Board chairman Aaron Jaffe. Jaffe said he had wanted IGB to have broad powers to deny licenses to operators whose locations had been raided due to gray-area games, or who had merely been under investigation for illegal gambling in the past.
Quinn said if he had not signed the bill, nearly 800 VFW and American Legion Halls in the state would have been forced to remove their existing gray-area poker games by midnight of Aug. 1.
The Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association strongly supported the bill, while some local press organs opposed it with equal fervor. After Quinn signed it, the Chicago Tribune ran a negative editorial headlined "The Bad Guys Won." The paper said the law denies IGB tools that it needs to "keep organized crime out of state-sanctioned gambling."
The new VLT market in Illinois, which will allow independent operators to run games with payout, was legalized last summer by legislators and the governor. Deployment of machines, which will be taxed at 30%, is expected to begin mid-2011, assuming vendors, suppliers and locations obtain licenses. Up to five terminals can be installed in businesses that have licenses to sell liquor for onsite consumption.