Accel Entertainment Throwing Money Into Missouri Campaigns Despite Illinois Issues

Posted By Joe Boozell on September 1, 2021

Accel Entertainment, a prominent video gaming terminal (VGT) operator in Illinois, is sending campaign contributions to Missouri politicians as the Show-Me State contemplates gambling expansion.

The news comes as Accel faces troubles in Illinois.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) doled out a $5 million fine to Accel for a deal it made in September 2020 with DraftKings. DraftKings and Accel agreed to a pact that would place the former’s ads on VGT machines.

DraftKings didn’t do anything wrong, but the IGB alleges Accel illegally offered money to potential clients to do business with them instead of other operators. Accel is fighting the fine.

IGB spokesman Joe Miller told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“The case is is pending before an administrative law judge, and the IGB does not comment on pending litigation.”

Meanwhile, in Missouri, Accel has donated tens of thousands of dollars to various political candidates. It donated $15,000 to the House Republican Campaign Committee on Aug. 24.

Last year, Accel also donated $28,000 to a political action committee run by former Missouri Senate President Tom Dempsey of St. Charles. That was then funneled to other politicians.

Gold Rush Amusements, another Illinois VGT operator, is also pumping tens of thousands of dollars into Missouri campaigns.

Will the donations have a significant effect on Missouri gaming policy? Here’s the latest on what’s been going on in the MO gambling expansion debate.

Missouri gambling update

Missouri is looking into legalizing retail and online sports betting as well as VGTs.

The Illinois VGT industry is booming, and because Missouri is also considering VGTs, it makes sense why operators are lobbying in the state.

However, recent gambling bill S 98 failed in the state Senate this week. Bill sponsor Denny Hoskins said in a statement:

“I am disappointed Senate Bill 98 reached an impasse on the Senate floor last night. However, I am not discouraged. I will continue to work with those willing to implement a regulated gaming environment and provide over $200 million in new revenue to education and veterans, in lieu of the unregulated, illegal market that exists today in Missouri.”

Missouri casinos are opposed to VGTs in the state. There have been various sports betting proposals in MO recently, but the legislature has not been able to find the right mix to appease all parties.

VGTs a big hit in Illinois

Illinois has the largest VGT industry in the country. In July alone, the machines brought in $64.8 million in tax revenue for the state.

That’s part of the reason why online casino legislation has hit a snag in the Land of Lincoln. VGT operators fear that online casino would cut into their customer base, and enough Illinois politicians are sympathetic to that argument.

It’s a similar story in Missouri, even though online casino is not part of the gaming proposals. When companies like Accel get involved in the campaign process, they have a clear objective in mind.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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