Posted on: June 29, 2023, 02:25h.
Last updated on: June 30, 2023, 09:11h.
The Illinois gaming industry continues to expand. To help fill the hiring void, the state may soon allow ex-cons to apply for these jobs.
Currently, people with felony convictions are barred from working in Illinois casinos. But Senate Bill 1462, which was passed in May, is awaiting Governor J.B. Pritzker’s (D) signature and would allow some ex-cons to be hired.
If signed into law, the bill would allow people with felony convictions to apply for an occupational license from the gaming board, allowing them to work in casinos in nongaming positions.
The bill passed the Illinois General Assembly on a mostly party-line vote, 78-27, and has the support of labor unions and the Illinois Gaming Board.
State Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) sponsored the legislation and expects Pritzker to sign the bill. The gaming board will review the types of convictions, the time since conviction, and the charges’ severity.
Under the proposed law, the Illinois Gaming Board will have the right to refuse a permit to “anyone deemed a threat to the state’s public interests or gaming integrity.”
Bill’s Potential Impact
At least 1.5 million men and women have been convicted of felony charges in Illinois, according to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Eligibility restrictions, even after probation and prison sentences have been satisfied, often remain in place, some for a lifetime.
Sen. Peters, the bill’s sponsor, says allowing nongaming employment in the casinos decreases the likelihood of people winding up back in prison, essentially allowing someone a chance to turn their life around.
Mass incarceration and profoundly deep income inequality are tied together,” Peters said. “There is an inherent contradiction in saying that you want to be tough on crime while you are leaving people out of economic opportunity.”
While some may see the legislation as controversial, it passed the State Senate and House with little debate.
Illinois Casino Jobs Market Growing
As previously reported by Casino.org, Illinois is one of the largest land-based casino markets in the US, outside of Nevada. With the Bally’s casino project adding to the number of casinos statewide, the state has an even larger demand to fill casino positions.
The $1.7 billion casino resort project will create some 3,000 permanent jobs, not to mention some 3,000 construction jobs. The facility at Freedom Center in River West is expected to open in 2026.
Bally’s Chicago posted more than 700 positions for its temporary casino at Medinah Temple earlier this year, which is slated to open next month.
It’s not just Chicago. Jobs fairs and postings have been in place for Hard Rock Casino Rockford, Golden Nugget Danville, Waukegan, Walker’s Bluff, and Wind Creek Casinos.