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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 1, January 2011, Posted On: 1/7/2011

Illinois Trade Lobbies Against Racetrack Slots

Marcus Webb
Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, ICMOA, Illinois Senate Bill 737, Illinois video lottery, Illinois video gaming, Video Gaming Act, video poker, amusement machine operator, American Gaming Systems, Ryan Cravens

SPRINGFIELD, IL -- The Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association said it is working "actively and publicly against" Senate Bill 737, a measure that would massively expand legalized gambling in the state -- and would provide more competition for the planned market of operator-run video lottery terminals.

The Illinois House of Representatives' Executive Committee voted 8-3 in favor of the bill on Jan. 5, sending it to the full House for action. The Illinois Senate passed the proposal in December; the House could vote to pass it any time before Jan. 12.

Sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the bill would grow Illinois' gambling market beyond its current base of 10 riverboat casinos to include five new casinos that supporters say would generate an additional $1.3 billion in annual tax revenues. Six racetracks would also be permitted to operate slot machines.

Illinois passed the Video Gaming Act in mid-2009, authorizing operator-run VLTs statewide on a local option basis. The VLT market is now expected to launch by mid-2011 following numerous delays.

In a blast email to Illinois industry members this week, Ryan Cravens of American Gaming Systems, a maker of VLT products, said implementation of the Video Gaming Act "could be delayed further" by SB 737.

The proposed bill is continuing to evolve amid much debate by lawmakers. After the bill reached the House this week, some representatives proposed amendments to add slot machines at O'Hare Airport outside Chicago.

Operators of existing casinos in Illinois also oppose the bill, saying it will cost them 50% of their revenues and 12% of their jobs.

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