Gov. Pritzker Signs Law Allowing Illinois Casinos To Hire Convicted Felons

Written By C.J. Pierre on August 17, 2023
Second chance

A new law has been signed allowing Illinois casinos to hire convicted felons for non-gambling positions.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation that lifts the state’s prohibition on convicted felons working inside commercial casinos. The move gives Illinois casinos a larger pool of hospitality workers from which to hire.

For over two years, employers in many industries in the Prairie State have been required by law to consider the full context of qualifications for some job applicants with criminal records instead of immediately disqualifying them based on that. That requirement now applies to the gambling industry in Illinois as well.

Convicted felons can now apply for non-gaming jobs at Illinois casinos

Back in May, the Illinois legislature voted to pass Senate Bill 1462. The measure amends the Illinois Gambling Act to allow individuals with certain felony convictions to apply for non-gaming positions at Illinois casinos.

The change allows the Illinois Gaming Board to qualify felons for the following positions:

  • housekeepers
  • waitstaff
  • chefs and cooks
  • bartenders
  • bellmen
  • porters
  • dishwashers.

Despite Pritzker signing SB 1462 into law, those with felony convictions still cannot pursue gaming positions, such as table game dealers and slot attendants.

“Here in the Land of Lincoln, we believe that people deserve second chances. And that includes the formerly incarcerated and those who have been convicted of a felony,” Gov. Pritzker said in a press release. “As we transform our justice system away from incarceration and towards rehabilitation, we are creating opportunities for Illinoisans who’ve made mistakes to secure gainful employment and build better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Many jobs at Illinois casinos require the applicant to get a gaming license. The law still includes some automatic disqualifiers for a gaming license. Those include any felony or conviction involving dishonesty or moral corruption. The law contains a provision that the IGB may consider applicants with those sorts of convictions after at least 10 years have passed. However, the applicant cannot have been convicted of any further crimes during that time.

Furthermore, the law says the IGB can also deny a license if it determines the applicant poses a threat to the state’s public interests, the security of gaming operations or the integrity of gaming in Illinois.

Playing field for jobs that don’t require gaming license is now even

State Senator Robert Peters is one of the authors of SB 1462. He said individuals affected by the justice system often have difficulty seeking worthwhile employment opportunities when transitioning back into society. The law will open doors to good jobs for those trying to get back on their feet.

“These individuals have served their time and should be able to move on with their lives,” said State Sen. Peters. There are many non-gaming related jobs within casinos, such as hospitality-related positions. Connecting this vulnerable community with these good paying union jobs will empower folks to become financially secure and stimulate the growth of safe communities.”

Peters also believes the legislation increases the hiring pool for casinos and also helps prevent offenders from reoffending. Unions, casino companies and the IGB supported the bill.

The change comes as Bally’s putting staff together in preparation for the opening of its temporary casino at Medinah Temple in River North. The target date, which has been pushed and is now slated for September.

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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at Play Illinois. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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