Gambling Legislation

Illinois to allow felons to work at casinos

Having a criminal record may not be a deal-breaker for those looking for casino jobs

On Friday, Gov. JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1462 (SB 1462), an amendment to the Illinois Gambling Act, allowing individuals with certain felony convictions to seek employment in non-gaming positions at casinos throughout the state. The bill was authored by Senator Robert Peters and Representative Kam Buckner in concurrence with the leading Illinois hospitality and gaming union Unite Here Local 1.

The amendment to state gambling law allows the Illinois Gaming Board to permit felons to apply for positions like housekeepers, chefs and cooks, waitstaff, bartenders, porters, bellhops, and dishwashers. However, the law would prohibit Individuals with felony convictions from holding gaming positions like slot attendants and dealers.

The Illinois statute will not explicitly prohibit offenders convicted of violent felonies from employment, unlike other states that have passed similar legislation. Instead, SB 1462 requires the Illinois Gaming Board to evaluate different factors in deciding whether these individuals will hold a license needed to work in any state-regulated casino.

Like thousands of businesses across the US, casinos in Illinois are struggling to find suitable employees. President Karen Kent, whose Unite Here Local 1 union represents around 15,000 hospitality workers in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, says the new law will permit more workers to seek a career in hospitality.

“Our union has worked hard to ensure that hospitality workers at Illinois casinos can have a path to good jobs,” declared Kent. “But our work is incomplete if so many of our friends, our neighbors, beloved members of our families, and our communities are forever locked out of these jobs because of a prior conviction. Today, we’re giving people hope for a second chance.”

Supporters of the legislation say not only does the new employment bill boost the hiring pool for casinos, but it also helps discourage individuals from reoffending.


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