The Illinois Gaming Board held its second webinar-based monthly meeting on July 30 with new video capabilities. It should be noted that this is the first meeting since the Board delegated authority to the Administrator to act on certain matters. As such, you will notice that certain items were approved in this meeting without a Board motion and that other items may be mentioned that do not appear on the published agenda.
Members present included Member Ramirez, Member Hayden, Member Garcia and Chairman Schmadeke. The meeting began with the approval of the last month meeting’s minutes with one correction to the occupational title of a previously issued licensee.
The meeting then continued with the Chairman’s opening comments. In his comments, Chairman Schmadeke spoke about his appreciation for being able to have a video meeting and the technological team that has made it possible.
Administrator Fruchter began his comments by addressing the technological difficulties of conducting virtual meetings and stated that he appreciated everyone’s continued patience and understanding. The Administrator then addressed the resumption of video gaming and casino operations. He stated that as of July 1, all casinos are operational, as are 98% of all licensed video gaming establishments with over 96% of all terminals within those establishments being operational. The Administrator continued by thanking all of the licensees, the staff and other members of the industry in their continued efforts to make the resumption plan a success. He continued his comments by reminding licensees of the obligation to remain diligent in the battle against COVID and emphasized the requirements to continue the fight, such as social distancing, protective personal equipment requirements and cleaning protocols, and added that there is a collective duty to not allow the gaming industry to experience another dark period.
Next, the Administrator addressed the national coin shortage, how it is impacting the redemption of winning tickets, and what measures the IGB is taking to remedy the issue, including issuing an emergency rule, Rule 1800.1421, on July 23, 2020. The emergency rule allows for new methods for ticket redemption and can be found here.
The Administrator then addressed sports wagering and reminded licensees of their obligation to abide by the statutes and accompanying rules, specifically rules 1900.1100 (Commencement of Wagering), 1900.1120 (Prohibitive Wagering Activity), and 1900.1140 (Authorized Events and Competitions). The Administrator mentioned that the IGB has received 39 requests for approval to wager on sporting events not specifically stated in the statute. The Administrator reminded the audience that he is required to wait 30 days before approving the requests and, if approved, all licensees are able to offer the events regardless of which licensee submitted the request.
The Administrator then discussed the new casino license applications stating that he is aware of the October 2020 timeline for approval and instructed applicants to pay close attention to the statute and rules and get information into the IGB in a timely and complete manner, specifically updates or supplemental information requests coming from the IGB staff. The Administrator also reminded applicants of specific statutory sections and rules regarding ethical behavior and, in particular, wanted to ensure that local host communities are continuing to file the necessary documents in accord with Section 5.3 of the statute, informing IGB of discussions with an applicant.
Finally, the Administrator briefly mentioned the new inducement rule stating that the comment period is over and that the IGB is preparing for the second notice filing with the Illinois Secretary of State. The Administrator said he also expects to have communication with industry stake holders after the filing.
The Chairman spoke briefly to echo the Administrators comments regarding the commendation of staff, including the Administrator, in association with the resumption plan.
There were four speakers during the public commentary section.
The first speaker was Randi Wagner of Wagner’s Lounge. Ms. Wagner addressed the Board to request that the new inducement rule be amended so that Terminal Operators are 100% obligated to pay the local taxes or registration fees associated with video gaming terminals. Ms. Wagner’s specific concern seemed to be the Cook County video gaming machine tax.
The second speaker was Shelly Gibson, Chief Legal & People Officer and Secretary, Thornton’s LLC. Ms. Gibson addressed the Board about the status of their pending applications and waiver request and urged the IGB to make a determination so that state and local governments could begin to receive additional revenue.
The third speaker to address the Board was Anita Bedell, Executive Director of the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Additional Problems. Ms. Bedell addressed the Board with her concerns regarding underage access to gambling and the impact gaming expansion will have on problem or compulsive gamblers. She requested a self-exclusion program be instituted for video gaming similar to the Illinois casino self-exclusion program or the video gaming self-exclusion program in Pennsylvania. Ms. Bedell also mentioned concern over former IGB board members currently sitting on the board of licensees. After Ms. Bedell’s comments, the Administrator stated that he wanted to make it clear that there is no advantage given to licensees that hire former IGB board members or IGB staff.
The last speaker was Andy Sotiropoulos, owner of Connie’s & Giannis, Inc. Mr. Sotiropoulos addressed the Board regarding getting a determination on a pending Rule 320 petition involving his location.
The Administrator spoke briefly to discuss the proposed Online Sports Branding Rule, Rule 1900.1260, to state that the informal comment period for this Rule ended June 29, 2020 and that staff has reviewed the comments. He confirmed that no revisions to the Rule were made and staff is asking the Board to approve the Rule for First Notice Filing. The proposed Rule will not be filed simultaneously as an emergency rule. The Board approved the First Notice Filing request.
Second, the Administrator presented the Board with the Dissemination of Closed Session Minutes from January 2019 through December 2019. The Board approved the dissemination.
The Casino meeting began with the Board approving the request to withdraw the owner’s license application of Haven Gaming, LLC. The Administrator provided a brief history of past IGB meeting items regarding this applicant and stated that by allowing the withdrawal, the city of Danville can start its process anew to select an applicant(s) to be sent to the IGB for investigation and approval. If Haven Gaming, LLC is selected again, it will need to seek IGB approval to reapply within a year.
The meeting continued with the Board approving the preliminary suitability of Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.
Next, the Board approved the following Key Persons or Level 1 Occupational licensees related to owner’s licensees:
The Administrator approved the renewal of the Casino supplier licenses of Gaming Partners International and IGT, 18 Level 2 and two Level 3 occupational licensees, and the renewal of the occupational licensees that that were up for renewal this month for those who provided updated information to the IGB, timely paid their renewal fees and complied with all other requirements. The Administrator denied the applications of three occupational licensee applicants.
This concluded the Casino portion of the meeting.
The Sports Wagering session began with the Board approving the initial consideration of Hawthorne Race Course, Inc. as Master Sports Wagering license.
Next, the Board voted to issue approve the supplier license of IGT for a period of four years.
Finally, the Board approved 124 Level 2 occupational licenses.
Separately, the Administrator approved the pending Level 1 occupational licenses of individuals associated with Casino Queen, Inc. and Elgin Riverboat Resorts.
The Video Gaming session began with the Board denying the initial manufacturer license of Creative Game Technologies LLC.
Next, the terminal hander, technician and location licensees which were up for renewal and provided updated information to the IGB, timely paid their renewal fees, and complied with all other requirements were renewed and four notices of nonrenewal were issued: one to a handler/technician and to the following three establishments:
The following Manufacturer, Distributor, Supplier and Terminal Operator licenses were also renewed:
The meeting continued with initial licenses being issued to four terminal handlers and 107 video gaming locations and the denial of two terminal handlers and the following nine locations:
In a new category, the following four locations were denied due to what the Administrator described as “statutory ineligibility:”
Before concluding the meeting, the Administrator spoke briefly to mention that the next meetings are schedules for September 17, 2020 and November 4, 2020.
As always, if you have any questions regarding what happened at today’s meeting or any pending rules/regulations, please give us a call.
We hope you, your family and your loved ones remain safe and healthy.