Video gambling moves a step closer in Illinois

2011-12-07T20:15:00Z Video gambling moves a step closer in IllinoisBy Kurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
December 07, 2011 8:15 pm  • 

SPRINGFIELD | The odds of legalized video gambling finally coming to the Land of Lincoln just got a little better.

Top Illinois gambling regulators confirmed Tuesday that the state has accepted a bid for a system to monitor the thousands of video gambling machines expected to be licensed by the state in the coming year.

Final details are being worked out, Illinois Gaming Board spokesman Gene O'Shea said.

"We hope to enter into a contract as soon as possible," O'Shea said.

The award comes more than a year after gaming regulators canceled a similar contract after officials said there were bidding irregularities.

Under the new contract, the state would pay Scientific Games International $66.8 million for the system, which is an estimated $13 million less than it would have cost under the initial, flawed contract.

Bidding records show gaming giant GTECH was the only other bidder for the system, which is supposed to track money going into and out of each machine from locations throughout the state.

The step is the latest in a more than two-year odyssey for the launch of legalized video gambling in Illinois. Lawmakers approved the plan in hopes of raising an estimated $300 million annually for a massive statewide construction program.

But, the launch has been marked by delays and opposition by some local officials. Last month, Gov. Pat Quinn recommended that video gambling be allowed only in communities that specifically vote in favor of it. Currently, the machines are considered legal in every community unless a municipality votes to ban them. About 80 cities and towns have voted to keep them out.

O'Shea said it likely will take about six months to get the system in place.

"We hope to go live within the third or fourth quarter of 2012," O'Shea said. 

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