Video gambling may be here by Labor Day
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org July 27, 2012 4:20PM
Visitors play the slot machines at the former Empress Casino in Joliet. | File photo
Going all in
Southland establishments that have been licensed under the Video Game Act (as of Monday):
Beecher AMVETS Post 67
532 Gould St., Beecher
Chino’s Pizzeria, Inc.
8356-58 S. Roberts Road, Justice
Glenwood Oaks Restaurant
106 N. Main St., Glenwood
Peotone Bowl & Lounge
210 N. 2nd St., Peotone
Side Bar 167
16711 S. Richmond Ave., Markham
To track which establishments get licensed for video gambling, visit www.igb.state.il.us/VideoGaming/default.aspx.
Source: Illinois Gaming Board
Southland towns allowing video gambling
Crete (prohibited in bowling alleys)
East Hazel Crest
Evergreen Park (veterans establishments only)
South Chicago Heights
Southland towns banning video gambling*
Country Club Hills
*Video gambling also is banned in unincorporated areas of Cook and Will Counties
Source: Illinois Gaming Board (as of Monday)
Updated: September 1, 2012 6:03AM
The state’s first legal video gambling machines at restaurants, bars, truck stops and fraternal and veterans organizations could be running and paying out winners in a month or so, an Illinois Gaming Board spokesman said.
“We don’t have a hard date set, but it looks like sometime around Labor Day,” spokesman Gene O’Shea said.
The next step is to select five locations as test sites for the machines, O’Shea said. The five sites will be spread throughout the state, and the test will be conducted for two weeks, he said.
“Once we have that going and it shakes out and we know everything is fine, we’ll flip a switch and anybody (with video gambling machines) will be up,” O’Shea said.
The gaming board already has approved licenses for about 90 establishments statewide, and hundreds of applications are pending, according to its website. Some venues already have their new gambling machines on site, ready to be installed.
“Some are still in the bubble wrap,” O’Shea said.
At least five Southland locations have been licensed by the state to conduct video gambling, and dozens more have applications pending.
A central communications system vital to the video gambling operations has been tested and found viable, O’Shea said. The wireless central system will link and provide real-time communications, such as revenue data, between every licensed gambling terminal in the state and the Illinois Gaming Board.
Now that the board has established the system as functional, all current video gambling terminals in the state that are operated for amusement only, have a valid amusement tax sticker, and are able to award, record and remove credits must be removed from establishments or are subject to seizure as of Aug. 20, under the law.
“Possession of those becomes a felony,” O’Shea said. “It would be smart to get rid of them.”
Among the establishments that will be giving up video machines is Pelican Harry’s Sports Bar in Homer Glen. It has video games that are used for amusement purposes only, said Jim Dobek, one of the owners.
The Homer Glen Village Board voted to ban video gambling under an opt-out provision in the state law.
“People like playing those. It’s fun. But the village opted out of it,” Dobek said.
Illinois lawmakers approved video gambling in 2009 to create revenue for a $31 billion state capital improvement program.
Proponents says from $375 million to $500 million a year could come from up to 75,000 machines statewide, with a maximum of five terminals allowed at each establishment.
The law calls for the gaming vendor and the host establishment to each get 35 percent of profits, with the state getting 25 percent and the local municipality 5 percent.