Gaming board releases video gambling rules

October 16, 2009 (CHICAGO) The gaming board says its statewide gambling operation will be run in its own way rather than mimicking legalized gambling in other states.

Business is slow at Allcocks, as it is at most bars of late. Owner Frank Martello would welcome video poker.

"We're looking for more avenues to increase business and I think that would help," said Martello.

There is an enormous amount of work to be done before new generation video poker machines start popping up in bars.

On Friday, the state gaming board approved some preliminary rules dealing, in part, with who gets licensed, and it's a long list; the manufacturers of the machines, the distributors, the suppliers, the terminal operators or the people who'd buy and place the machines, the technicians, the handlers, the bar owners all would have to clear background checks.

"You could be talking about thousands of applications of licensures we'll have to process. Tens of thousands. Potentially yes," said Mark Ostrowski, gaming board administrator.

The gaming board which has been given no additional money or staff to start a new industry is none too pleased with a comment from House Speaker Mike Madigan's office that gaming board members are dragging their feet video poker, and that they ought to be able to cut and paste what other video poker states have done.

"I will tell you that we will not cut and paste. Cut and paste is for kindergartners, not individuals trying to create a new industry," said Aaron Jaffe, gaming board chairman.

There are a lot of basics, still part of a work in progress. For instance, if you win at video poker in a bar, how do you collect your winnings?

"There either can be somebody designated to pay out, or potentially something similar to casinos where a machine is actually paying out," said Jaffe.

That's still to be decided. Watching all this are game makers and financiers who see business on a big scale.

"Louisiana with a population that's a tad larger than Chicagoland and in just taxes they receive between $200 and $300 million a year. That is on 14,000 machine," said Edgar Colomb, The Funding Stop.

Illinois would have three times the number of machines, and bar owner Martello says the potential machine operators are chomping at the bit.

"I've been approached by ten people…they want to put the machines here," said Martello.

Everyone though will have to breathe deep and wait a bit. The gaming board says it needs to double both its budget and staff - $20 million a year and 150 employees times two before video gaming can happen. The money is not yet there. And the gaming board chairman says, optimistically, video poker is a year away.

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