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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 4, April 2011, Posted On: 3/18/2011

Illinois Gov Is 'Open' To Video Gaming Act Repeal

Marcus Webb
Video Gaming Act repeal, Illinois Video Gaming Act, video lottery terminal, video game terminal, video poker machine, Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, Illinois Gaming Board, coin machine operator, amusement operator, coin-op news, Appellate Court ruling on Video Gaming Act, Pat Quinn, Wirtz Beverage Illinois, Rocky Wirtz

SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Nearly two years after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Video Gaming Act into law, paving the way for amusement operators to run a legal VLT market statewide, Quinn said he was "open" to repealing the measure.

"I have no love for video gambling," Quinn said at a recent press conference.

Repeal was proposed March 15 by Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), president of the state Senate. Cullerton attached a repeal measure to an unrelated bill.

The first video lottery terminals were expected to go online by late summer or early fall, according to state officials. But Illinois has yet to certify a single operator for VLT business or to get its central computer system up and running.

Some 80 separate jurisdictions around the state voted to opt out of any VLT market after passage of the controversial Video Gaming Act in 2009.

The gaming act was originally part of a $31 billion capital improvement program. After the omnibus law was challenged in court, the measure is due for a hearing by the state's Supreme Court.

Plaintiffs charge that the Video Gaming Act is unconstitutional because Illinois's constitution forbids legislators from passing a package of unrelated laws with a single vote.

If the high court finds for the plaintiffs, legislators could be forced to pass the VGA as a standalone measure if they wanted to go forward with operator-run, small-wager video lottery. | SEE STORY

VLT supporters said the state could expect to receive $500 million or more in tax revenues a year from a market comprised of 40,000 machines.

Lobbyist Zack Stamp said the Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association was surprised and dismayed by Cullerton's moves to repeal the VGA.

Stamp pointed out that businesses have acted in good faith that the VGA would be implemented, investing millions of dollars and hiring staff.

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