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Issue Date: Vol. 52, No. 9, September 2012, Posted On: 9/4/2012

Illinois Ups Redemption Game Prize Limit To $25, Amends Criminal Code

Marcus Webb
TAGS: ICMOA, Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, Illinois redemption game law, Illinois redemption prize limit, Gov. Pat Quinn, permissible amusement prize values, vending machine, arcade game, coin machine, An Act Concerning Gaming, Chuck E. Cheese law, Illinois Criminal Code, redemption game definition

SPRINGFIELD, IL -- The Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association won a legal victory on Aug. 28 when Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a bill that increases permissible prize values for redemption games from the price of play to $25. The measure brings redemption prize values into line with the previously established $25 prize limit assigned to cranes and merchandisers.

ICMOA officials said they had initially hoped to increase the redemption prize value limit to $50 or $100. However, this target was considered unachievable amid a political climate in which Illinois's gambling expansion had become controversial. Last spring, the state Legislature passed an unrelated bill to expand casino gambling. Gov. Quinn vetoed that bill on Aug. 28, the same day he signed the redemption bill, designated HB 4320.

In addition to raising the prize-value ceiling, the measure amends the state's 1961 Criminal Code, expanding the definition of "redemption game." The 195-word definition in the bill broadens the redemption category with computer-based games in which gameplay and outcome are depicted with flashing lights, and includes games with spinning wheels. The law also states that all redemption equipment is exempt from Illinois gambling statutes, as long as game outcomes are based on "predominately skill" and "only merchandise prizes are awarded."

The legislation helps ensure that redemption operators are not viewed as operating gray-area equipment. This will assist operators who wish to obtain gaming licenses under the 2009 Video Gaming Act, an ICMOA official told Vending Times. The state's VLT market is expected to launch in late September or early October.

The official title of HB 4320 is "An Act Concerning Gaming." However, one House sponsor of the bill casually referred to it as the "Chuck E. Cheese's law," and the unofficial moniker caught on. ICMOA officials said that the Chuck E. Cheese's chain had nothing to do with crafting or passing the bill.

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and Sen. Antonio Muñoz (D-Chicago) cosponsored the measure. It passed in both houses on May 31.

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