Former State Representative Luis Arroyo plead not guilty to bribery in federal court on Tuesday. Arroyo’s plea says he did not pay Illinois State Senator Terry Link $2500 a month in kickbacks in exchange for support on legislation that would have helped loosen restrictions on “sweepstakes” machines around the state, an effort that would have benefited one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients, who also has ties to House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Arroyo has waived indictment and been charged instead in a one-count criminal information — a sign that he’s likely going to change his plea to guilty at a later date. In Springfield, a Sangamon County State Representative is working to undo the legislation tied to the gambling machines Arroyo paved the way for. Representative Tim Butler is working to ban the machines as the chief sponsor on HB 3940, because he says they operate outside the law. “They are de facto video gaming machines. In a state where we have legalized video gambling, I don’t see a need to have a machine that operates like a video gaming machine. These sweepstakes machines are not regulated. There is no background checks on the owners. They are not subject to local and state taxes, so they don’t pay any taxes like the video gambling taxes. I think they are bad. I think they are gambling machines and we have to get rid of them.”
Butler and several bi-partisan co-sponsors believe the machines are allowing thousands of dollars in gambling revenue to be missed. “There are places that have upwards of a dozen of these machines in their establishment. I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands of dollars that are garnered by the owners of these machines every year. They are done outside of the law, basically. They try to say that it’s a sweepstakes that you can go online and get a t-shirt or a hat or something. These people are cashing out to the person behind the bar giving them cash straight out of the register, just like you would a video gambling machine.”
Butler said that many of the machines are located in businesses that have been denied gaming parlor licenses or are located in townships that have banned gambling altogether. HB3940 is expected to be voted on before the end of the Spring legislative session.