One of the largest video gambling operators in the US, Accel Entertainment, is facing a $5 million levy from the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) for allegedly violating the regulator’s inducement rules.
Commissions for Business Owners
The 8-page complaint against the operator alleges Accel entered into a deal with sports betting brand DraftKings to use commissions paid to it by the sportsbook provider as an incentive for business owners who would choose Accel and not some of its competitors to install video gambling machines from.
The IGB claims the $21,000 in commissions paid out violate the Illinois Gambling Act as it is illegal for operators of video gaming machines to offer inducements to businesses to gain a competitive edge.
DraftKings, which gained access to Illinois’ sports betting market after an agreement with Casino Queen, will gain advertising space on Accel’s video gambling screens rolled across 2,300 locations in the state.
The Boston-based sportsbook provider agreed to pay Accel $200 for every new customer channeled to the sports betting operator, who met certain conditions, the complaint explains, pointing out Accel would have the right to share the spoils with the establishments where their machines are located.
The IGB specifically pointed to two e-mails from Accel’s chief commercial officer, who asked the wording of the agreement with DraftKings to state Accel would be sharing the commissions with business owners who have Accel machines. “We want it in the agreement so the gaming board can see that we are operating as a pass-through for the commissions,” one of the e-mails cited by the IGB states.
According to the IGB, the way the agreement is structured gave Accel complete control over the payments and allowed them to lure current and potential clients, an allegation the operator is disagreeing with and intending to vigorously defend against.
“Accel is committed to conducting itself in accordance with all relevant gaming laws and regulations.”Donna More, Attorney, Accel Entertainment
Accel Entertainment falls into the scope of regulators again, after a report in March claimed the video gaming operator took advantage of connections at the IGB to obtain an internal document from the board about its competitors and benefit from the decisions of the board which made it difficult for Accel’s competition to establish firmly in the state market.
Despite opening an inquiry into the correspondence between Accel President and CEO Andrew Rubenstein and the former IGB’s top lawyer, the regulator did not provide further information about the result of the probe.
So far, regulatory actions against video gambling operators violating the law passed in 2009 proved difficult to enforce. A disciplinary case launched 3 years ago against another company is still mired in court after the operator filed a lawsuit against the IGB.