Video gaming licenses in limbo costing Illinois millions

ABC7 I-TEAM INVESTIGATION
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team investigated the millions of dollars Illinois is leaving on the table as video gaming license applications are in limbo. The state gaming board hasn't met since November, leaving hundreds of machines in the dark and no revenue for the state.

Right now, 832 video gaming licenses are in limbo because the gaming board has not met in months to conduct business including the approval of license applications. And as Illinois state finances remain firmly in the red, a golden opportunity is being lost.

Based on the latest state wagering stats, the state may have already lost more than $3 million in revenue because of the stalled applications.

With each play, the state gets 25 percent, or more than $16 million in January alone. Applicants for 832 new video gaming permits are awaiting approval to join the more than 19,000 machines currently in place in Illinois.

The gaming board that has to approve licensees hasn't met since last November. Since November, Gov. Bruce Rauner was elected; the chairman of the gaming board, Aaron Jaffe, was replaced; a second board member was replaced and two positions remain open.

There isn't a meeting scheduled until next month. In the meantime, the state is losing millions from the licenses left in limbo and the hundreds of machines that could be ringing up revenue in each new establishment.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Gov. Rauner told the I-Team that the governor "acted expeditiously to fill vacancies on the Illinois Gaming Board, and it now holds a quorum. The board has meetings scheduled in March, which will fulfill its statutory requirement to meet once a quarter of every fiscal year."

The four-month gap between gaming board meetings may be unusual, but it isn't unprecedented, according to board spokesman Gene O'Shea.

"Nine months was the longest time gap," O'Shea said, but that was prior to video gaming in Illinois, so there were no license applications to be in limbo.
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