For more than two years, employers in many industries in Illinois have been required by law to give consideration to the full context of qualifications for some job applicants with criminal records instead of immediately disqualifying them based on that. That requirement now applies to the gambling industry in Illinois, too.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker just finalized the new law that extends existing protections for applicants for certain jobs in the gaming industry. The law specifies exactly what type of positions the protections apply to and how regulators can use their discretion in these circumstances.
Far from open season for gaming jobs in Illinois
This law does not open all gaming jobs to people with criminal records in Illinois. Many such jobs require an applicant to obtain a gaming license. Examples include casino cage attendants, dealers and security.
The law still includes some automatic disqualifiers for a gaming license. Those include:
- any felony conviction
- any violation of Article 28 of the Criminal Code of 1961 or 2012
- any conviction involving dishonesty or moral turpitude
The law includes a provision that the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) may consider applicants with such convictions after at least 10 years have passed provided the applicant has not been convicted of any further crimes during that time.
That isn’t the only discretion the law affords the IGB for license application reviews. The law says the Board may also deny a license if it determines the applicant poses a threat to the state’s public interests, the security of gaming operations, or the integrity of gaming in Illinois.
For jobs in the gambling industry which do not require a gaming license, though, the playing field is now level.
Applicant protections now apply to non-gaming job openings
In 2021, Illinois passed a law requiring most employers to consider applicants with criminal records for open positions unless their convictions held a “substantial relationship” to the job at hand. Among the considerations required by the law are the length of time that has passed since an applicants’ conviction and the nature of the conviction.
Casinos, off-track betting sites and sportsbooks in Illinois now must follow the same procedure when it comes to hiring for positions that do not require a gaming license. Examples include hospitality and sanitation. These protections for applicants come at a great time, too.
Several of the state’s casinos are currently hiring. That includes the temporary Bally’s casino in Chicago. The new legal requirements open up more of these jobs to people with criminal records. They also give employers a larger pool of potential candidates.
In December, the National Career Development Association said that about 60% of formerly incarcerated individuals struggle with unemployment. Furthermore, the association added that “job opportunities are limited as former inmates are not eligible to work for all employers because of legal restrictions.”
This law allows regulators to address that issue while preserving their power to ensure the integrity and security of gaming in Illinois.