Rolling the Dice With Video Poker

Now legal, still troubled

There's plenty of controversy over the legalization of video poker in the governor's $31 billion construction program to provide jobs and build roads and bridges.

But it might be a ticking time-bomb in its execution for another reason: Nobody seemed to take much time to figure out how it will be regulated.

"There's no appropriation for this bill, so how do you put anything into effect?" gaming board chairman Aaron Jaffe tells the Sun-Times. "It's a very frustrating situation where all of the sudden there is this humongous task in front of you and [lawmakers] want [tax] money from you tomorrow. How is that possible?"

The legislation gives the gaming board 60 days to figure out how it will oversee a potential 45,000 video poker machines that could be deployed in bars, restaurants and truck stops throughout the state, the Sun-Times reports.

"It's going to be a huge debacle to get this all together," gaming board member Eugene Winkler says. "A terrible burden."

Winkler points out that the board must contend as well with illegal poker video machines already strewn about, some under mob control, complicating factors.

Quinn said when he signed that bill that he's "not that big a fan" of video poker," the Tribune reported.

"But he said communities have 'adequate protection' because local officials can refuse to allow video gambling and voters can ban it in local referendums," the paper noted.

Of course, the more that happens the less money the state will see - money it is counting on to fund its new programs.

On the other hand, the gambling industry is ecstatic. Shares in gambling-equipment makers - including Chicago-based WMS - were "on the rise" after Quinn signed the bill.

One stock analyst thinks International Game Technology will get 60 percent of Illinois's new video poker machine orders.

So at least somebody will be a winner in all of this - but it won't be the players, and it's not clear yet if it will be the state.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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