07/14/2009 11:00PM

Illinois poker-terminal plan excludes tracks


Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law on Monday a $31 million construction-program bill that will be funded, in part, by revenue from video poker terminals.

Restaurants and bars will have up to five video poker machines, and there may eventually be 45,000 machines in the state. None, however, will be found at racetracks or offtrack betting parlors, which were written out of the program. Neither will Illinois racing get any cut from the gaming expansion, which will begin after the Illinois Gaming Board formulates guidelines for operating the machines in the next 60 days.

Revenue from the video terminals will be taxed at a rate of 30 percent, and the state hopes eventually to take in $300 million a year from the machines.

The move comes after the legislature has declined to expand Illinois gaming in other forms, either through increases at the state's existing nine casinos or bringing slot machines to racetracks, which has been considered by the legislature for several years.

Meanwhile, $76.4 million generated by a two-year impact-fee imposed on four northern Illinois casinos and marked for racing remains in legal limbo.