The Illinois Gaming Board has been at odds with a Chicago businessman for six years. Now regulators are once again trying to revoke his license to operate video gambling terminals.
The board has filed a disciplinary complaint against Lucky Lincoln Gaming, owned by Jeff Rehberger Jr. The company has nearly 1,200 VGTs in about 200 locations throughout Illinois.
This feud has been ongoing since 2017, with regulators claiming that Lucky Lincoln Gaming has violated the Illinois Video Gaming Act, the Illinois Gambling Act and the Board’s Adopted Rules on Video Gaming several times. It is unclear if there is any resolution is coming in the near future.
Illinois Gaming Board vs. Lucky Lincoln Gaming
Illinois Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter filed the third complaint against video gambling terminal company Lucky Lincoln Gaming on May 12. The complaint alleges that the company illegally paid over $21,000 to build an addition to a restaurant in a Chicago suburb in 2020. According to the complaint, the expansion would create a spot in the venue for VGTs in hopes of persuading the owner to install Lucky Lincoln’s machines.
The board decided to hand down a limited summary suspension. Due to previous complaints, they are characterizing the alleged violation as a repeat offense. The suspension prevents Lucky Lincoln from entering into any new use agreements with video gambling establishments. However, the company filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court seeking a permanent injunction. They argue that a suspension would violate its due process rights. A judge then issued a temporary restraining order, putting the suspension on hold while the case proceeds.
Two other complaints against the company were filed in 2017 and 2019. However, they have been stuck in an administrative review process. The three complaints contain a combined total of 21 counts referring to alleged violations. Many of the accusations relate to inducements, including $5,000 cash payments and gifts of Rolex watches. Other counts allege witness tampering in the form of Rehberger Jr. trying to pressure a former sales agent to change his testimony and failing to adequately disclose employee names and activities.
The board says Lucky Lincoln’s conduct discredits or tends to discredit the Illinois video gaming industry and does not serve the best interests of the citizens of Illinois.
Lucky Lincoln is generating millions from video gambling in Illinois
Throughout this six-year process, Lucky Lincoln’s video poker and slot machines have become a cash cow. Company President Jeff Heimerdinger noted that Lucky Lincoln creates about $100 million in net terminal income, which refers to funds left over after customer payouts from video gambling machines. Those funds are divided between the establishments, state and local governments and terminal operators. He also added that the company generates $25 million in state taxes yearly.
Lucky Lincoln obtained its state license as a VGT operator in 2014. According to its website, it has video gambling machines in around 200 bars, restaurants and other locations throughout Illinois. Heimerdinger calls the board’s attempt to suspend Lucky Lincoln “unprecedented.”
All Illinois Gaming Board disciplinary complaints against video gambling establishments and terminal operators undergo an administrative review process. An administrative law judges oversee hearings and will make a recommendation before the agency takes final action in a case.
The restraining order of the suspension revealed that the three complaints against Lucky Lincoln had been consolidated into one case. The company believes the judge overseeing the case will come up with a decision before the end of the year.