A major video gambling terminal operator has agreed to pay a fine of more than $1 million from the Illinois Gaming Board. The penalty was agreed upon in a settlement related to a disciplinary case against Accel Entertainment alleging violations of state law.
IGB officials filed their case more than two years ago against the company. Accel Entertainment is based in the western Chicago suburbs and has become the most significant player in the booming video gambling industry.
Things could have been worse. The board was initially seeking a heftier fine. However, both sides were able to come to an agreement after a long and drawn-out debate.
Accel Entertainment accused of offering monetary incentives to local businesses
The complaint from state gambling regulators claimed Accel Entertainment made a deal with sports betting giant DraftKings IL in order to pay commissions to local business owners. The alleged goal was to entice these businesses into putting Accel gambling machines in their establishments.
According to the complaint, Accel would offer DraftKings advertising space on its video gambling screens as part of the deal between the betting companies. Accel would then get $200 from each new customer it drove to DraftKings. Accel would have the right to share those payments with the businesses where those video gambling machines were located.
It is illegal for video gambling operators to offer monetary incentives or essentially bribe businesses into working with them. State regulators claim that Accel paid out $21,000 in commissions, which violates the Illinois Gaming Act. When the case was filed in December 2020, Accell denied any wrongdoing.
The IGB initially sought a $5 million fine. However, both sides finally reached a resolution after hearing arguments for over two years.
IGB and Accel agree to settlement, fine
Accel Entertainment is headquartered in Burr Ridge, IL, about 20 miles southwest of Chicago. The operator was founded in 2012 before going public in 2019. According to the company’s website, it is the largest operator of video gambling machines in the US. That includes operating terminals in 13 states.
Accel and the Illinois Gaming Board have had a solid working relationship for years. State gaming officials were happy they were able to reach an agreement.
The IGB approved the settlement during a recent meeting. Accel will 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.
During the meeting, Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said Accel had acknowledged that its conduct underlying the disciplinary complaint did not meet the standards and expectations for licensed video gambling operators. Fruchter added that Accel is committed to enhanced compliance, training and reporting requirements.
The board unanimously approved the deal. Board Chairman Charles Schmadeke praised the settlement, saying it is a terrific resolution that he hopes leads to a better relationship.
State law made video gambling legal in Illinois in 2009. Since then, the state has some 43,000 machines at over 8,300 locations, including 13 Illinois casinos and 10 sportsbooks. Last year, legal gambling generated over $1.4 billion in tax revenue in Illinois.