Rep. Tim Butler has filed legislation in the House to bring so-called “sweepstakes” machines under Illinois’ video gaming laws.
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) has filed legislation in the House to bring so-called “sweepstakes” machines under Illinois’ video gaming laws. Even though sweepstakes machines look, operate and are marketed almost exactly like legal video gambling machines, a loophole in the state’s 2012 video gaming law has allowed them to operate outside the law, putting consumers at risk.
“It is obvious to anyone that has seen one of these ‘sweepstakes’ machines that they are clearly setup as gambling machines designed to skirt the law,” said Butler. “I find that very concerning because it puts consumers at risk. The 2012 video gaming law was setup with important consumer protections like requiring operator background checks, limits on the number of gaming terminals and guaranteed chances for players to win to ensure they are not being cheated.
“These sweepstakes machines should not be able to skirt the law. We have evidence that some of these sweepstakes machine operators failed video gaming background checks and have turned to these machines instead.”
Sweepstakes machine operators often use deceptive marketing practices and language to appear as if they are legitimate video gaming establishments. Terms like “slot style games,” “jackpots,” or even going so far as to call the games themselves “slots” are frequently used in promotional materials to draw in consumers.
Despite the clear similarities, the primary reason sweepstakes machines have skirted Illinois’ video gaming laws is because consumers can play in a limited capacity without spending any money. The machines also issue coupons that can be redeemed for products or cash, rather than only a cash payout. This has also allowed the sweepstakes machines to get around local municipal ordinances that ban video gaming and operate completely unregulated without paying taxes to state or local authorities.
To address the problem, Butler has introduced House Bill 3940 that expands the definition of “gambling device” under state law to ban these unregulated devices.
The legislation was filed today and Butler has already begun working across the aisle to build support in hopes of advancing the bill during veto session.