The Video Game Terminal (VGT) Distributor, Accel, was slammed a $5 million fine by the Illinois Gaming board (IGB). The IGB is the agency in charge of regulating VGT and other gaming activities in Illinois. The penalty follows the deal between Accel Entertainment and a sports betting company, DraftKings; the agreement allows Accel Entertainment’s over 2,300 VGTs across Illinois to feature contents from DraftKings. The agreement also lets Accel’s VGTs highlight avenues to sign up in DraftKings mobile app and advertisements and betting lines.
The $5 million fine comes after the IGB’s investigation that the deal is a camouflage for Accel to compensate businesses monetarily to feature Accel machines in their business places. According to IGB, actions of VGTs making a payola to keep their devices at establishments is illegal, as stated in the Illinois Gaming Act.
What the Law Says
The IGB contends that the agreement between Accel and DraftKing violates Section 25 (c) of the Illinois Video Gaming Act. The Act considers a Class 4 felony any act of VGTs seeking to lobby business establishments to keep VGTs at their premises in exchange for a monetary benefit.
According to the IGB’s complaint, Accel Entertainment sent an email to its over 2,300 VGTs licensed by Accel to carry on VGT business in their premises across the state, informing them of its deal with DraftKing. The IGB further stated the mail had an additional section titled, “Incentives for Your Establishment.” This section precisely defined the process by which video gaming terminals would obtain monetary benefits from Accel, which, according to IGB, is against Section 25 (c) of the Gaming Act. The IGB stated that these circumstances prompted the fine against Accel.
Accel Isn’t Giving In
In an exclusive interview with the Counsel to Accel Entertainment, Donna More, she revealed Accel isn’t giving in to the board’s decision and would battle the fine in court.
The battle Accel plans against the IGB increases the confidence Accel VGT operators and investors place on the gaming company. The listed company isn’t showing any sign of loss in shares since the board slammed the $5 million fine—it has made an over 7% increase in its shares in the past weeks. The gaming company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange as ACEL with an over $900 million market capitalization; investors, therefore, are less concerned with pulling out of the gaming company following a $5 million fine.
It’s a Tough One for the IGB
Getting the IGB to prove the $5 million fine against Accel would be a difficult task, says Donna More. She also stated that the emails IGB intends to use against Accel are copies of discussions among its executives on how profits derived from DraftKings agreement with business owners would be shared. The contract reveals that DraftKings would pay $200 to Accel for every new client sent to the sports betting operator.
There’s also an email dated August 21, 2020, sent by the Chief Marketing Officer to Accel executives, which proves Accel operated merely as a pass-through commission and did not engage in a payola for VGTs to be placed in business premises.