Friday, September 18th, 2015

Two Cases Set Up a Potential Conflict Regarding Municipal Authority to Regulate Video Gaming

Two recent appellate court decisions, one from the First District and one from the Fifth District, provide different indications regarding municipal authority to act in relation to the Illinois Gaming Board’s authority over video gaming.

The case of J&J Ventures Gaming, LLC v. Wild, Inc. involved a legal challenge by a company that believed it should have had exclusive rights to provide an establishment’s video gaming machines when another company provided video gaming machines to the same establishment. The Fifth District held that the General Assembly vested the Illinois Gaming Board with exclusive authority to execute and enforce the Video Gaming Act, and that Illinois courts did not have concurrent jurisdiction to make determinations about video gaming operations. Significantly, local government authority to regulate video gaming was not at issue in the J&J decision.

The case case of Midwest Gaming & Entertainment, LLC v. County of Cook involved a four-count lawsuit by the owners of Rivers Casino challenging the validity of Cook County’s gambling machine ordinances. Of particular significance, the plaintiff argued successfully to the trial court that the Illinois Gaming Board had exclusive jurisdiction to regulate and oversee gambling devices, and that the County’s ordinances interfered with the statewide scheme. The First District disagreed and found that the Riverboat Gambling Act did not explicitly preempt home rule authority and thus the County had the authority to assess license fees for valid local government purposes. The appellate court also disagreed with the lower court’s finding that the ordinance created an improper license for revenue. Notably, the Midwest case specifically addressed gambling machines on a riverboat pursuant to the Riverboat Gambling Act, not the Video Gaming Act.

What these cases set in motion are arguments for and against municipal authority and home rule authority to assess license fees and more generally regulate video gaming operations beyond the Video Gaming Act provisions and Illinois Gaming Board’s regulations. At least two other cases are pending in the appellate courts which implicate video gaming and local government authority to regulate.

Brad Stewart

Author: Brad Stewart