Convicted Felons Can Start Working at Illinois Casinos

Governor JB Pritzker(D) recently signed a law which lifts the ban on commercial Illinois casinos hiring convicted felons. The new legislation prohibits felons from holding gaming capacities and restricts them from being inside gaming employees.

Senate Bill (SB) 1462 amended the Illinois Gambling Act, offering convicted felons an opportunity to apply for non-gaming jobs at local casinos. State Representative Kam Buckner (D-Chicago) and Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) partnered with Unite Here Local 1 to author the gaming bill. Unite Here is among the largest gaming and hospitality workers' unions in Illinois.

The legislation states that felons can work as cooks, chefs, bellmen, bartenders, dishwashers, housekeepers, waitstaff, and porters. But they cannot be slot attendants and table game dealers as it categorizes them as gaming positions.

Pritzker stated after signing the bill that such individuals should get a second chance to work in their communities. They include people convicted of a felony and those formerly incarcerated.

The governor added that changing Illinois' justice system to rehabilitation will create more vacancies for residents who have violated certain laws to get hired and provide for themselves and their loved ones. Besides, it will boost local communities' economy.

Applicants' Eligibility

Some states in the country have amended their constitutions to let convicted felons work in their commercial casinos. But, Illinois'' law doesn't fully prevent violent felons from reentering the gaming workplace.

SB 1462 requires the Illinois Gaming Board to assess some things before deciding whether someone is eligible for a license which is necessary to work in a commercial gaming site. One of the board's license requirements is that an individual should have good character. Also, they must not trade or have social interactions with people having a bad reputation.

The gaming board had nine qualifying factors before the governor signed SB 1462. Its licensing criteria prohibited people with criminal felony offenses from working in casinos.

Yet, SB 1462 instructs the board to check the time that has elapsed since an individual got a felony conviction, the severity and nature of their crime, how it relates to other people's security, their age when they got convicted, facts about their conviction, proof of their rehabilitation and the number of their convictions.

Many enterprises in the country, including Illinois casinos, are facing an acute shortage of qualified workers. Karen Kent, Unite Here Local 1's President, states that the new employment regulation will increase the hospitality sector's workers. The worker's union comprises almost 15,000 hospitality employees from Northwest Indiana and Chicago.

Kent said that the union has championed for Illinois hospitality workers to get better jobs. Still, they are determined to end the discrimination that convicted felons face at certain companies.

SB 1462's supporters believe that it will broaden casinos' hiring pool and discourage offenders from violating the state's laws again. Peters stated that offering such people job opportunities will reduce income inequality in Illinois.


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