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Commission: 'Sweepstakes' games should be outlawed

5 months, 3 weeks ago John O'Connor, Associated Press

Sweepstakes or coupon machines resemble video gambling kiosks

From John O'Connor, Associated Press:

An anti-crime group is backing legislation in the Illinois General Assembly that would outlaw "sweepstakes" machines that the group says are illegal video gambling devices - unregulated and inviting to organized crime.

The Chicago Crime Commission, a nonpartisan group of civic leaders that works to improve public safety and the justice system, has planned a news conference Sunday to lend its support to a measure sponsored by Sen. Antonio "Tony" Munoz, a Chicago Democrat. It would remove a provision in existing law that allows for unlicensed gambling devices if they are used in non-gambling activities.

Sweepstakes or coupon machines resemble video gambling kiosks in bars, restaurants, convenience stores and elsewhere, Art Bilek, executive vice president of the crime commission, told The Associated Press on Saturday.

But unlike state-regulated video gambling operations, none of the money goes to help local or state governments and no one associated with the machines must undergo a criminal background check. That's an open door for organized crime, Bilek said.

"The last thing we want is for the Outfit, who's down pretty low thanks to the FBI, to start getting all this ... money back in their veins," Bilek said. "Here's a machine, now, that has no rules."

Supporters of the machines say they don't offer gambling, but a coupon that can be redeemed for prizes. In a notice posted on the Illinois Gaming Board website declaring the operations illegal, the board notes that courts in eight states, including Indiana and Ohio, have rejected this argument.

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