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Dave & Buster’s Wagering Prohibition Left In Limbo By Illinois Legislature

The Illinois legislature didn’t act on a bill to prohibit Dave & Buster’s from facilitating app wagers but sponsor says it will come up again.

Dave & Buster's Sign
Photo by Shutterstock/JHVEPhoto
Matthew Kredell Avatar
4 mins read

Illinois ended its regular legislative session last week without passing legislation aimed at stopping Dave & Buster’s from facilitating wagers on amusement games.

However, bill sponsor Rep. Dan Didech told PlayUSA that should not be taken as a green light for the company to move ahead at Illinois locations with plans to take wagers between patrons on games such as Skee-Ball over its app.

The chair of the House Gaming Committee, Didech had a swift negative reaction, first filing his bill mere days after the Dave & Buster’s announcement.

Didech explained why the bill didn’t pass at the end of the session:

“Gaming issues, including the Dave & Buster’s issue, were among the multiple major issues at the end of the session that got put on the back burner because we were focused on getting the budget over the finish line.”

No Illinois online casino legislation advanced this session. You can follow our online casino bill tracker for updates on Illinois and other states.

Final form for Dave & Buster’s bill

The Family Amusement Wagering Prohibition Act started as HB5832. But that bill was introduced after the filing deadline, so the House Gaming Committee moved the language to HB394.

Finally, the committee moved the language to SB327 in the final days of session, combining it with several other minor gaming fixes the committee wanted to see passed.

Didech also added definitions and exemptions to the bill to ensure that it didn’t have any unintended prohibitions.

Among the exemptions:

  • Coin-in-the-slot operated mechanical devices that reward free plays.
  • Vending machines.
  • Crane games where players attempt to pull out items valued at $25 or less.
  • Contests in which participants pay a fixed entry fee to compete it at a scheduled date or time.

The bill was meant to prohibit family amusement establishments from facilitating and advertising about wagering.

The House Gaming Committee advanced the bill 15-0. But SB327 never got a floor vote.

“We had some good discussions on it that gave some positive reinforcement that this is the direction the House wants the state to go,” Didech said. “And we had some good conversations on this with our partners in the Senate and the governor’s office as well.”

Future for Illinois’ Dave and Buster’s wagering prohibition

Didech said this isn’t the last we’ll hear on the prohibiting family amusement facilities from getting involved in wagering in the Illinois legislature. The bill could even come back up this year when Illinois returns for the veto session, which isn’t expected until after the November elections.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that, either this fall in the veto session or next spring, we’ll be able to get this over the finish line.”

Didech said he believes it’s important to eventually get the legislation done to clarify what is and isn’t allowed under state law.

But even without a prohibition codified in statute, Didech hopes the legislation lets both the Illinois Gaming Board and Dave & Buster’s know this plan to facilitate wagers on family amusement games is not acceptable in Illinois.

“I think certainly we sent a strong message that this sort of activity will face a lot of scrutiny if they try to spin it up in Illinois. Hopefully companies thinking about initiating this see that we’re taking it seriously and there’s a strong chance the legislature will take action in the near future to indicate that this is something we don’t want to see in Illinois. And if the Illinois Gaming Board has authorization to take against it, hopefully they’ll do that.”

Dave & Buster’s facing more roadblocks in other states

Illinois isn’t the only state that took notice of Dave & Buster’s plan to facilitate friendly wagers on its app.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board already told the company it would take a hardline stance against unlicensed gaming in the state.

Ohio and Pennsylvania regulators also have begun taking a look at the Dave & Buster’s issue.

Illinois problem gambling task force idea dropped

Early in the session, Didech proposed legislation to create a problem gambling task force to make recommendations on how the state could better address the issue.

Didech said he dropped HB5307 after having discussions that left him confident his concerns would be handled by the Illinois Gaming Board and Department of Human Services.

“We had some good conversations with our partners in the executive branch. What they explained to me is a lot of the ideas proposed for that task force were already happening. So we probably didn’t need to create a formal task force on that issue. On the Gaming Board and DHS, there’s a lot of attention being paid to what the state can do to address problem gambling in the most effective way possible.”

Matthew Kredell Avatar
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Matthew Kredell serves as senior lead writer of legislative affairs involving online gambling at PlayUSA. He began covering efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling in 2007 and his since interviewed over 300 lawmakers around the country.

View all posts by Matthew Kredell

Matthew Kredell serves as senior lead writer of legislative affairs involving online gambling at PlayUSA. He began covering efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling in 2007 and his since interviewed over 300 lawmakers around the country.

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