Dave & Buster’s skill games facing opposing legislation in Illinois

Illinois Dave & Buster's Amendment
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The Illinois House Gaming Committee is taking legislative action in response to Dave & Buster’s recent decision to begin offering social wagering through its rewards app.

The committee has approved Amendment 1 to House Bill 394, which aims to make changes to the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975. The proposed amendment, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Didech, establishes the Family Amusement Wagering Prohibition Act.

“The state of Illinois closely regulates our robust gaming industry to ensure that businesses are operating in a manner that is fair for players and safe for families,” said Didech. “We do not need gambling to irresponsibly expand into family-friendly environments.”

Earlier this month, Didech introduced House Bill 5832, which aims to ban “family amusement establishments” from offering or promoting real-money wagering on their games. The measure explicitly states that video gaming terminals are not included.

Illinois allows brick-and-mortar establishments to offer VGTs but only provides residents and visitors with online access to skill games, including FanDuel FaceOff and Skillz.

HB 394 with its recent amendment will now head to the full House for a vote but additional changes to the bill are expected to ensure the protection of gaming tournaments.

Lawmakers in Illinois have until May 24, the end of the current legislative session, to pass the proposed measure.

Opposition outside of Illinois

Illinois joins Ohio and Pennsylvania as states with lawmakers raising concerns over its new venture. Last month, Dave & Buster’s announced that its loyalty members over the age of 18 will be allowed to digitally compete while playing arcade games, including Skee-Ball.

Dave & Buster’s plans to leverage technology from gamification software company Lucra to launch the product in the coming months to its 5 million loyalty members. The app will not be available in Nevada after the state’s Gaming Control Board motioned to exclude the feature, which led to Dave & Buster’s decision to not launch the product in the state.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission told CNBC it has also “serious concerns” about the forthcoming app.

Dave & Buster’s operates more than 222 venues across North America, which see approximately 30 million unique visitors each year.