Gaming has existed in the United States and Illinois since the first settlers traveled across the Atlantic. In fact, the colonies and states used lotteries to bankroll their budgets during their early days. Due to misconceptions about the men who played games of chance, the eastern states banned it, and it was moved primarily out west. The Midwest, on the other hand, continued gaming with riverboats and horse racing. The perception that men who participated in gaming were conmen went hand in hand with the Prohibition, and during this time, gaming was moved underground.
Gaming stayed underground in Illinois until the 1900’s when state legislators realized that gaming might be able to help fund state initiatives such as bettering education. By the 1990’s riverboats were allowed back in the Iowa and Illinois area (with the exception of Cook County). Gaming continued to grow, and in 2009, a campaign was started to allow it in bars, restaurants, fraternal organizations, and truck stops. After three long years of debate, the act was finally allowed in 2012.
Illinois is one of the first states to not only allow video gaming but online lottery sales as well. Advanced wagering allows gamers to place bets on horse races in other states, ahead of time. Governor Quinn vetoed an act that would added several new casinos all over the state, but in the same act he allowed video terminals into the racetracks. The revenue from these terminals has helped racetracks all over the state keep their heads above water during financial struggles. In order to add gaming to an establishment, the owners must retain a gaming license from the state of Illinois. Each establishment must also hold an up-to-date liquor license. Locations with these licenses can have up to five machines each. The revenue from the machines often pays for itself or even the liquor license. Terminal operators get 35% of the total revenue with 35% going to their partner and 30% being taken in taxes.
Supporters will very likely continue to try and expand in both Illinois and the nation itself, citing the tax revenue as a way to help out different state funding while also helping smaller businesses keep their doors open. The addition of video gaming has helped many different businesses stay relevant and it will likely continue to do so as avid supporters campaign for expansion.