Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham

News from Springfield: Cunningham advances measure to ban sweepstakes machines 

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State Senator Bill Cunningham advanced a measure through the Senate Executive Committee to outlaw unregulated electronic sweepstakes machines.

“Sweepstakes machines are not subject to the same licensing and regulation requirements as video gaming terminals, which can lead to illegal gambling activities and harm consumers,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This bill will help protect Illinoisans from the negative effects of unregulated electronic sweepstakes machines.”

Sweepstakes games are a type of game where customers put money into machines, usually kiosks, and the machine prints a coupon which can be used to purchase goods at a particular website. In addition to the coupon, the customer is allowed credits to play slot-like games on the machine, and if the customer wins, any winnings he or she receives based on playing the machine are printed on a receipt which may be redeemed at the bar or machine location for cash.

Unregulated sweepstakes machines have recently been tied to organized crime and corruption. This regulatory measure will move Illinois in a direction away from the breach of public trust committed by bad actors.

Under current Illinois law, all video game terminals must be licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board before placement or operation. However, there is nothing in statute to prohibit the use of a game device only if the game device is used in an activity that is not gambling. A violation amounts to a Class 4 felony.

“As Illinois looks to be a model for the rest of the country on video gaming and sports wagering regulation, we must ensure that protections are in place for those who are following the rules and serious repercussions are handed down to those who abuse the system,” said Cunningham.

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