SPRINGFIELD - During the month of January 2013, $125,459,092 was played in 3,379 Illinois video gambling machines statewide, with $115,678,075 won and $9,781,028 lost. Altogether, Illinois took $2,445,331 in taxes in January alone.
Not only are those state figures easily accessible on the Illinois Gaming Board's website, so are the amounts played, won, lost, and the taxes paid out for each of the video gambling facilities, listed on the Illinois Gaming Board's website by individual outlets. In a world of digital record-keeping and online transparency, the information is easily accessible to any inquiring mind with a click of the mouse.
But that's about it change, if State Rep. Andre Thapedi's HB 1306 passes the House State Government Committee Wednesday and proceeds to the House floor, then to the Senate and Governor.
The gambling industry is pushing to hide from the public information about individual gaming outlets losses and wins. However, State Rep Thapedi is willing to amend the bill to allow access for only "news media" as defined by Illinois' Freedom of Information Act, Illinois Press Association's Josh Sharp told Illinois Review Tuesday.
So if HB 1306 were to pass as it will be amended, who exactly will be able to acquire the now-public information about gambling wins and losses in Illinois? The FOIA statute says:
"News media" means a newspaper or other periodical issued at regular intervals whether in print or electronic format, a news service whether in print or electronic format, a radio station, a television station, a television network, a community antenna television service, or a person or corporation engaged in making news reels or other motion picture news for public showing.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has not responded to the anti-gambling group ILCAAAP's request to oppose HB 1306. The bill will be heard in the State Government Committee at 2:00 PM Wednesday.