Illinois lawmakers consider new rules for underage gambling stin - – Rockford’s News Leader

Illinois lawmakers consider new rules for underage gambling stings


Sting operations help hold businesses accountable when it comes to serving minors, however some lawmakers say the state is cracking down too hard when it comes to gambling. 

"We're doing everything we can to follow the law," said general manager of Don Carter Lanes Brad Sommer. "We just want a fair shake at it."

Like a growing number of restaurants and bars around Illinois, Don Carter Lanes in Rockford offers video gaming for customers over the age of 21.

"These games have become such an important part of our business model now that we're doing everything we can to keep minors out," said Sommer.

But Sommer says his best efforts might not be enough in an undercover sting.

Under the law, sting operations can send in a minor to a bar or restaurant with video gaming.  If the minor plays a machine before a waitress or manager can check their ID, lawmakers say that business could be fined up to $5,000. 

"By the time they can walk over there and tell the person they have to leave, they could have easily gotten one bet in and that was never the intent," said Republican Senator Dave Syverson.

That's why Syverson is sponsoring a new bill to protect business owners from what he calls unfair practices.

"Reasonable guidelines that say if you're going to do a sting against a bowling alley, a restaurant, a bar, then these are the criteria that you have to follow so you don't have this 'gotcha' mentality," said Syverson.

And while the measure has bipartisan support, other lawmakers like Democrat Steve Stadelman say implementing these new policies is a balancing act. 

"You also don't want to tie the hands of investigators, who are looking into this type of activity," said Stadelman.

But while the details of the policy change are still up in the air, businesses like Don Carter Lanes say it's the right move overall.

"I fully support it, it will make me sleep a lot better at night," said Sommer. 

Senator Syverson expects the bill to head to vote in the Illinois Senate in the next 10 days.

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