On January 1, 2024, a new Illinois law took effect. The law allows Illinois casinos to hire convicted felons for positions unrelated to gambling. Senate Bill 1462 authorized the change, giving casinos the option to hire convicted felons for various positions including waitstaff, chefs, bartenders and other non-gambling jobs.
Illinois Gaming Board still has the final word
Even with the new law in effect, the Illinois Gaming Board retains the final say on denying applicants a casino position. All casino employees — regardless of the position’s relation to gambling — must be licensed by the IGB. The organization can still deny the applications of prospective employees based on their criminal history. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Board will consider factors such as “how long ago someone was convicted, the age at which they committed a crime, and the nature and severity of the crime.”
It’s also likely the IGB will deny applications for former felons whose past crimes relate specifically to gambling.
A much-needed staffing boost?
This new law could be a boon for casinos in Illinois. With new sites launching and old ones relocating to bigger lots, the need for staff is ever-growing. Bally’s Chicago Casino just extended its hours and is now open 24 hours a day. Rockford’s Hard Rock casino is almost done building its permanent property.
In December, Mark Twain Casino permanently shuttered its live table games due to difficulties in hiring staff to run the games. While the new law wouldn’t help Mark Twain specifically (ex-felons aren’t allowed to work gambling-related positions), the casino’s struggle is emblematic of the growing demand for casino games In Illinois and the lack of staff to support these growing operations.
With the ability to hire convicted felons now on the table, Illinois casinos could see a much-needed boost to their staffing. Additionally, ex-felons who struggle to find work may now have increased chances of landing a role in this burgeoning industry.