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Illinois Inches Closer to Gaming Goal Line
One week ago, after attending its annual meeting in Milwaukee last week, I wrote how WAMO is an industry state association that is firing on all cylinders these days.
This week, the Illinois state group conducted its annual gathering in the northwest Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake, and it too, was impressive.
While there's considerable "meat left on the bone" when it comes to finalizing details prior to launch of video gaming in Illinois, the state's operators, distributors and others connected to the project can now see some light at the end of what once must have seemed like a really long, dark tunnel.
I'm not exactly sure when the campaign to bring video gaming to Illinois started, but I dusted off a copy of an ICMOA-commissioned study, "Video Gaming in Illinois: New Revenue is in the Cards," which was published 11 years ago, in 2001. So, the push was on before that.
Things really got interesting for ICMOA and the coin-op business in Illinois in July 2009, when Governor Pat Quinn signed the capital bill that included the video gaming provision to help fund state infrastructure projects.
In the ensuing three years and up to the present, it's been a roller coaster ride — oftentimes a turbulent one — and ICMOA should be commended for not only keeping it on the rails, but for laying some trailblazing track to take the organization and project in new, uncharted territory.
Almost overnight, ICMOA was forced to basically re-invent itself — by creating and bringing in new member classes and by taking activities such as fundraising, lobbying, public relations, communications and its meetings/exhibits to entirely new levels.
The late Ray Shroyer deserves much credit for all of his diligent efforts to set the video gaming table in Illinois, but several others, such as Ray's contemporary, John Neville and recent ICMOA Presidents Tom Fiedler, Sam Westgate and now Phil Webb, along with staff leadership Rich and Jeannine Mitchell, have been instrumental in guiding the ICMOA ship during some stormy stretches. And, it's almost home.
In thanking many individuals during his President's remarks on Wednesday, Phil Webb quoted the mantra of one of his predecessors, when he said ICMOA is about "one voice, one direction, one goal."
To the degree the organization is solid, united and on the verge of achieving its objective to bring video gaming to the state, ICMOA's leadership should be commended for a job well done.