Video Gambling Machines: A Comprehensive Guide

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From local bars and restaurants to dedicated gaming cafes, video gambling machines have proliferated in the Illinois gaming landscape. Here’s a brief history of video gambling machines, and an inside look at what every gaming business owner should know about them.

What Are Video Gambling Machines? 

Video gambling machines (VGMs), often synonymous with video gaming terminals (VGTs), are electronic devices that offer games of chance, such as video poker and slots. These machines are prevalent in various licensed establishments across Illinois, including bars, restaurants, truck stops, and specially licensed gaming cafes. Video gambling machines offer businesses owners significant added revenue and a unique entertainment experience for their customers.

As a leader in the gaming and amusement industry since 2009, and the first Terminal Operator to install VGTs in Illinois, Universal Gaming Group has all of the knowledge and expertise to help gaming businesses thrive. Contact us today to get started, or to make a switch to the industry’s best service.

How Video Gambling Machines Work

Operated by cash, and in some jurisdictions, cash vouchers, VGMs, or VGTs, use random number generators to determine the outcome of each game, ensuring a fair and unpredictable sequence of events. With a variety of games available, these machines cater to a wide range of preferences, often featuring unique storylines, colorful graphics and engaging sound effects. Although similar, there are differences between VGTs and casino slots.

A Brief History of Video Gambling Machines

Video gambling machines have a rich history that traces back to the mid-20th century. The first electromechanical slot machine, named Money Honey, was developed by Bally Technologies in 1963, marking a significant shift from traditional, purely mechanical models. The introduction of microprocessors in the late 1970s then paved the way for video poker machines, offering a new level of complexity and interaction. The 1990s witnessed the rise of electronic table games, combining video technology with traditional casino games. Fast forward to 2009, and The Video Gaming Act was enacted in Illinois, authorizing the placement of Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) in licensed retail establishments, truck stops, and veteran and fraternal establishments. The introduction of VGTs and skill-based games also prompted VGT regulatory and legal requirements.

Today, the landscape includes diverse video gambling terminals, incorporating advanced graphics, touchscreens, and connectivity, providing players with immersive experiences across casinos, bars, and online platforms.

Other Types of Video Gambling Machines

In addition to VGTs, there are a number of different video gambling machines in operation today in Illinois, offering unique gaming experiences.

  • Video slot machines mimic traditional slot machines complete with spinning reels with matching symbols.
  • Electronic table games replicate casino classics like roulette and blackjack, offering the chance for multiple people to virtually play together.
  • Video poker machines simulate the classic card game and offer enthusiasts a realistic experience in one of gaming’s most skilled activities.
  • Lottery terminals allow players to purchase tickets, choose numbers and participate in various lottery-style games with the potential to win cash prizes.

The Economic Impact of Video Gambling Machines in Illinois

Video gambling machines have become big business in Illinois since their introduction, driving billions of dollars in revenue. They offer an alternative revenue stream for local businesses and generate significant tax revenue for state and municipal governments.

The presence of VGMs can also drive foot traffic into establishments, potentially boosting sales for other services and products offered by the host location. Moreover, a portion of the generated tax revenue is earmarked for funding various state projects, including infrastructure and education initiatives.

Taxation and Revenue Sharing

In Illinois, revenue from VGTs is subject to state and local taxes. The taxation framework ensures that the state’s interests are safeguarded while also providing a fair return to machine owners and host establishments. This revenue is then divided according to a predefined formula called the “mandated split”, roughly one-third to the gaming business, one-third to the Illinois Terminal Operator, and one-third to the state and city supporting state funds and local development projects.

Regulations Governing Video Gambling Machines

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) strictly regulates the operation of VGTs to ensure compliance with state gambling laws. These regulations cover aspects such as licensing, the number of machines per establishment, the distribution of revenue, and measures to promote responsible gambling. Operators and establishments are required to adhere to these rules to maintain their licenses. Universal Gaming Group regularly shares IGB updates on our website.

Technological Advances and Player Safety

The State of Illinois and the IGB continuously review policies and measures to ensure responsible gaming both for businesses and players–from raising awareness during responsible gaming month to enforcing responsible gaming signage in gaming establishments, ensuring that added revenue doesn’t come at the expense of Illinois’ societal well-being.

The Future of Video Gambling Machines in Illinois

The future of video gambling machines is wide open, like any other technology. We might see a more immersive and interactive gaming experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) could enhance gameplay by adapting to individual preferences and skill levels.. 

What we do know is that the video gambling machine industry is in a healthy state. Business owners can rest assured that the economic benefits of gaming in Illinois–including additional state revenues, local small business growth, and job creation–will keep adding to the momentum.

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