Daily Herald
FAQ on video poker proposal
Daily Herald Staff Report
Published: 6/1/2009 12:17 AM

Here is a look at what the new "video poker" law would mean for your restaurants, bars and local clubs:

Q. What kind of machines would be allowed?

A. The measure, which has not yet been signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn, was billed as "video poker" expansion, but it really allows any type of video gambling, including slot machines. The maximum wager per play via nickel, dime and quarter denominations is set at $2 and the maximum payout per play will be $500, making them more limited than the average slot machine at a casino. The machines must adhere to similar regulations as slot machines in casinos, including regular inspections and certain payout rates.

Q. Are there security concerns?

A. While the machines won't pay out in coins or cash, they will produce a ticket that can be cashed by the bartender or club manager. The law does not stipulate any additional security requirements, such as guards or cameras, that are common at racetracks and casinos.

Q. Where will the machines be located?

A. Every licensed liquor establishment (including restaurants), truck stop, fraternal club or veterans club can have up to five video gambling machines. The machines are restricted to areas where only those over 21 are allowed. So if a restaurant wants to add them, they would be placed in a separate room where the door can be monitored. They do not have to be out of view of children. Truck stops are defined as any such facility of at least 3 acres with a separate island for diesel. Video gambling would not be allowed in bars and clubs within 1,000 feet of a school, church, casino, racetrack or OTB.

Q. What kind of tax money would this generate?

A. Supporters say this could mean up to $400 million in state taxes.

Q. What about problem gamblers?

A. The law dedicates 25 percent of state licensing fees collected from video gambling operators to counseling programs for addicted gamblers. While no official estimates of the revenue have been made, it appears that could generate more than $1 million. The new machines would not abide by the state's exclusion list that addicted gamblers can sign up to ban themselves from casinos.

Q. Who is going to watch over all this?

A. The Illinois Gaming Board would be in charge of regulating the expected 45,000 video gambling machines across the state. Critics contend there isn't enough money provided by the law to adequately regulate the massive expansion.

Q. Can my town still ban them?

A. Yes. A village board can vote to ban video gambling within its borders and a county board can vote to ban in unincorporated areas. Voters can get a referendum on the ballot, but it would take a petition signed by 25 percent of registered voters, an unusually high amount. The question must label the devices "video gaming," with no reference to poker, gambling or slot machines.