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Video gambling machines

A man plays a video gambling machine in Chicago Ridge, Illinois, Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

Joseph P. Meier

Video gambling company agrees to pay $1 million fine to state of Illinois

A major operator of video gambling machines has agreed to pay more than $1.1 million to the state of Illinois to end a disciplinary case alleging violations of state law.

The settlement comes more than two years after Illinois Gaming Board officials filed their case against Accel Entertainment — which is based in the western suburbs and has become the biggest player in the booming video gambling industry.

Accel initially denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the charges, but the gaming board approved the settlement last week, with the company agreeing to pay a $1 million fine to the state and another $125,000 to cover the gaming board’s “administrative and investigative costs” in the case, Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said.

At the board meeting on June 15, Fruchter said Accel “has acknowledged that its conduct underlying the disciplinary complaint did not meet the standards and expectations” for licensed video gambling operators. Fruchter added that Accel committed to “enhanced compliance, training and reporting requirements.”

Although the gaming board originally sought a $5 million fine in the case, Board Chairman Charles Schmadeke praised the settlement.

“I will only say that I think this is a terrific resolution and I hope it leads to a better relationship,” Schmadeke said before the board unanimously approved the deal.

The complaint from state gambling regulators alleged the company entered into a deal with the online sports betting company DraftKings in order to pay commissions to business owners to entice them into putting Accel gambling machines in their establishments.

It’s illegal for video gambling operators to offer “inducements” to try and drum up or maintain video gambling business, and regulators allege the $21,000 in commissions paid out by Accel violated the Illinois Gaming Act.

Accel executives and its attorney in Illinois did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the resolution of the gaming board case.

When gambling regulators filed their case in December 2020, Accel responded that it disagreed with the gaming board and intended to fight the charges “vigorously.”

Accel — which is headquartered in Burr Ridge — was founded in 2012, went public in 2019 and is the largest operator of video-gambling terminals in the country, doing business in 13 states, according to the company’s website.

After a state law approved in 2009 made video gambling legal, Illinois now has the machines at more than 8,300 locations, in addition to 13 casinos and 10 sportsbooks. State officials say legal gambling generated more than $1.4 billion in tax revenue in Illinois last year.

Dan Mihalopoulos is an investigative reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.

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