Ex Convicts to Begin Working in Illinois Casinos

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Jan/03/2024

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation this past summer allowing convicted felons to apply for hospitality positions at the state's soon-to-be 14 casinos.  The provision went into effect on January 1.

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Previously under state law, anyone with a felony conviction was ineligible to work at a casino in any position.

For reasons that are obvious, casinos probably don't want convicted bank robbers working as a pit manager.

“Here in the Land of Lincoln, we believe that people deserve second chances — and that includes the formerly incarcerated and those who have been convicted of a felony,” Pritzker said in a news release.

Gambling911.com readers, some of whom have served time in prison for gambling offenses, would likely applaud this move.  Lack of job opportunities for those released from prison will most certainly result in recidivism.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 67.8% of released state prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years, and 76.7% were arrested within five years (Durose, Cooper, & Snyder, 2014).

Results from the bivariate analyses indicated that overall, unemployed ex-prisoners were more likely to re-offend than those employed, and that “a higher occupational level seems to be related to a lower risk of reoffending” (Ramakers et al., 2016, p. 15).

The Illinois legislation was supported by unions, casino companies and the Illinois Gaming Board alike. The new policy removes automatic disqualification for nongaming positions such as restaurant staff, maintenance and housekeeping. The circumstances of the crime and evidence of rehabilitation will also be reviewed prior to hiring.

“This law preserves the IGB’s necessary ability to protect the integrity of Illinois gaming while providing an opportunity for gainful employment in nongaming casino positions to applicants with prior convictions,” Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said in the release.

Bally's is looking to recruit ex-convicts for its temporary casino at Medinah Temple in River North.  In May, Bally’s Chicago put out a help wanted sign, looking to hire more than 700 positions. 

“At Bally’s, we strongly believe that the gaming industry can provide deserving, qualified individuals with gainful employment and a compelling career path,” George Papanier, president of Bally’s, said in the release. “This belief is embedded in our community-first policy, which focuses on generating substantial employment opportunities in the communities in which we operate.”

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com

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