Illinois House bill advocates for legalized video gambling machines in Chicago

April 2, 2024
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The proposal aims to address the rise of unregulated machines in restaurants and bars.

An Illinois representative has put forth a proposal that could lead to statewide legalization of video poker and slot machines, according to a recent local report in the Bellingham Herald.

Representative Kam Buckner’s measure seeks to address needs within the community, including Chicago’s revenue needs and racial disparities within the video gaming industry. The plan is that the city would exchange the current sweepstakes machines in bars and gas stations for state-licensed betting machines.

Under the current proposal, the new machines would be both regulated and taxed.

The state of Illinois first welcomed legalized video gambling in 2012. However, Chicago never amended its local laws by lifting restrictions on devices that are currently present in liquor-serving establishments like bars, taverns and restaurants.

Through the years, there has been a rise in unregulated and untaxed machines in these type of businesses, the local report said.

Because these machines resemble video poker terminals. However, they allow players to add money in exchange for online merchandise coupons. Players can then play the machine like they would a slot and cash out winnings.

Buckner’s bill would ask for the creation of a task force that would define the process necessary to “phase out” these sweepstakes machines. The process would include bringing in video gambling within Chicago’s city limits.

Buckner spoke with local news and why he believes establishing equity and addressing racial disparities should be an important piece of the bill.

He commented, “It's not enough just to kind of have equity be something that we are that we're trying to accomplish.

“You've got to actually put some skin in the game and create processes to actually do that."

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