Video gambling may be here by Labor Day
BY STEVE METSCH email@example.com July 29, 2012 7:30PM
For a list of establishments that have been licensed for video gambling, visit www.igb.state.il.us/VideoGaming/default.aspx.
Updated: July 29, 2012 8:06PM
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 Thursday.
“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.
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 and control 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 Illinois Gaming Act.
“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 to help fund capital projects such as road and bridge construction.