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Howard Stutz

Illinois expands slot machine footprint

27 May 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois -- Illinois lawmakers changed the language of the state's Video Gaming Act Wednesday, allowing truck stops and VFW halls to operate slot machines. The measure passed both legislative houses and it's anticipated the governor will sign the bill into law.

Originally, in the law passed a year ago, only liquor-licensed establishments, such as bars and taverns, could offer slot machines.

Local counties still are debating whether or not to opt into the plan, which could give Illinois more than 30,000 slot machines outside of the state's riverboat casinos.

Janney Montgomery Scott gaming analyst Brian McGill estimated the state had some 800 truck stops and VFW halls, which could add another 4,000 slot machines to the mix.

"It still remains to be seen whether the city of Chicago will opt into the video gaming machines," McGill said. "It is believed that they will, but a decision may not occur until after the election this year."

McGill said the news was on the positive side for slot machine makers such as International Game Technology, WMS Industries and Bally Technologies, which are looking to sell games into the Illinois market.

Illinois has one other gaming bill pending in the Legislature, which would allow 2,100 slot machines to be operated at the state's racetracks. McGill said the measure facing strong opposition from riverboat casino operators.

"At this time we do not believe this bill has enough support to pass, " McGill said.