Can I own and buy a slot machine in Illinois?

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes Regions of the United States. Under current Illinois law, licensed establishments are allowed to operate up to six video gaming terminals (VGTs) per location. The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) oversees the licensing, regulation and tax collection of the video gaming industry.

Not every municipality allows video gaming in Illinois. On the IGB website, you can find a breakdown of each municipality in the State and if they allow video gaming.  In 2018, the average month of video gambling in Illinois generated $123,381,510 in total revenue.

Gambling in Illinois

Gambling in Illinois
Image Source: Accelentertainment

The Riverboat Gambling Act was enacted in February 1990, making Illinois the second state in the nation to legalize riverboat gambling. In September 1991, the first riverboat casino began operation in Alton. Currently, there are ten casinos operating throughout the State of Illinois.

The Video Gaming Act was enacted in July 2009, authorizing the placement of up to five Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) in licensed Retail Establishments, Truck Stops, Veteran and Fraternal Establishments. The VGTs are all connected to and monitored by a Central Communications System.

Governor Pritzker signed the Illinois Gambling Act into law on June 28, 2019. The Act makes significant changes to gaming law in Illinois. The Illinois Gaming Board is working through these changes and on implementation of the Act. We will share information on the IGB website as the information becomes available. Please check back regularly for updates.

The Illinois Gaming Board is a five-member board, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Through the Administrator and staff, the Board administers a regulatory and tax collection system for riverboat casino gambling and video gaming in Illinois.

The Board assures the integrity of gambling and gaming in Illinois through regulatory oversight of riverboat and casino gambling, video gaming, and sports wagering in the State.

Before you think of slot machines in Illinois remember the following:

  • Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) – The IGB is the state agency that regulates both casino gaming and video gaming in Illinois. The Board itself is a five-member board, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. They have a large staff consisting of investigators, enforcement agents, financial and licensing staff, as well as attorneys. The IGB investigates and issues licenses to persons and entities involved in gaming and regulates all day-to-day gaming activities.
  • Terminal Operator (TO) – The TO is the licensed entity that owns, services, and maintains VGTs for placement in Licensed Video Gaming Locations (licensed Retail Establishments, Truck Stops, Veteran and Fraternal Establishments). In the State of Illinois, to operate video slots, you need to have a signed contract with a Terminal Operator.
  • Central Communications System (CCS) – The CCS is designed to provide real-time communication to and from every licensed VGT in the State.
slot machines in Illinois

Therefore if you want to buy slot machines in Illinois for commercial purpose then

Make sure your Illinois business is operating in a municipality that allows video gaming. The IGB’s website provides a list of where video gaming is permitted.

Make sure the type of business you own (or plan to open) is one of the types of locations allowed to apply for a video gaming license.

By law, there are four categories of video gaming establishments that the IGB can license:  retail, fraternal, veterans and truck stops.  However, a wide variety of businesses make up the category of licensed retail establishments, including some that are known as “non-traditional.” Unless you qualify as a truck stop, you must have (or obtain) an on-premises Illinois liquor license and serve alcohol at your location.

Finally, fill out the application for your gaming license! There are 10 parts to the application that your Terminal Operator can help you with.

There are certain things you need to be aware of when designing space for your VGTs, and a few of them are required by law.

  • Signage (required)
  • Dedicated electrical (required, and most Terminal Operators will provide or help provide)
  • Stanchions to separate the gaming area (required if patrons under 21 allowed in your location)
  • A clear line of sight to the entrance to the video gaming area by employees of your location who are 21 years of age or older

Also look for spacers between machines, if space allows for them. Even better if they provide a space for patrons to charge their phone! Bin for cash out vouchers near the NRT or ATM Terminal Operators can provide guidance when creating your gaming room

Getting a license to own a slot machine in Illinois

Getting a license to own a slot machine in Illinois

The process for getting licensed as an Illinois Video Gaming Establishment can be a long process, in part depending on your ownership structure. With any licensing process, it’s difficult to determine the exact amount of time it will take to complete. You should not expect to have VGTs immediately after applying. In most cases, you can expect the process to take about 2-3 months.

To prevent delays in the process you can work with your Terminal Operator to make sure all paperwork is completed correctly

  • Check that all licenses required for a video gaming license are up-to-date (state liquor license, local liquor license, etc.)
  • Ensure all required signage is in place
  • Pay all fees (IGB license fee and any required Municipal fees)

Can I own and buy a slot machine in Illinois?

Finally, the answer is yes you can own and buy a slot machine in Illinois if you obtain a license to operate it and use it. You can buy old slot machine online from eBay and other sites that sell refurbished slot machines in Illinois. For new slot machines, you can contact the gaming companies or casinos that sell such machines.