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Illinois Politicians Signal Possible Support For Poker Legalization

Posted On: 4/16/2003

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SPRINGFIELD, IL -- (Posted April 16) Top Illinois political leaders are signaling possible support for the legalization of payoff video poker. Illinois is facing a $5 billion budget deficit. On April 9, speaker of the house Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) said "everyone should take a hard look" at the idea. Two days later, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who had previously said he opposes gambling expansion, revealed that the governor would not necessarily veto a poker legalization bill if the legislature passed it. "This is the closest we have come yet" in a years-long campaign for a pro-poker bill, said executive director Adonna Jerman of the Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association. Before the state legislature goes into its summer recess, ICMOA hopes to see passage of a measure proposed by Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) that would legalize video gaming in bars, restaurants and certain other liquor-licensed locations. The bill would allow 47,000 video pokers statewide (three to five units per location). Operators would pay up to $10,000 per machine for modern, online equipment linked to a state-run central server. Ray Shroyer of Metro Amusements (Streator), former ICMOA president and chairman of the ICMOA gaming committee, estimates that Illinois could realize $750 million a year in new tax revenue from poker legalization. ICMOA officials believe that $40 million more could be generated from licensing fees, sales and related business'not to mention 2,500 new jobs.