As more bar and restaurant owners across the state of Illinois begin exploring video gaming, one term they’re likely to come across frequently is “Terminal Operator.” To those newer to the Illinois gaming market, a Terminal Operator might sound more like something they’d associate with a telephone company or a bus station than video slot machines. So what does it mean, exactly?
First, the legal definition. According to the Illinois Video Gaming Act, “Terminal Operator” refers to “an individual, partnership, corporation, or limited liability company that is licensed under this Act and that owns, services, and maintains video gaming terminals for placement in licensed establishments, licensed truck stop establishments, licensed fraternal establishments, or licensed veterans establishments.”
In plain English, “Terminal Operator” means companies that are legally allowed to own or lease video gaming machines, place them in licensed bars or other licensed locations, and make sure they run smoothly and within the bounds of the law. (Full disclosure: Accel Entertainment is an Illinois Terminal Operator.) But while that definition might give you a basic sense of what these organizations do, it’s hardly comprehensive. There’s a lot more to it.
Ideally, a Terminal Operator is more than an organization that provides an establishment with video gaming terminals (VGTs). It should be a true partner to the businesses they serve — and indeed, many of them are. To use Accel as an example, we provide a number of services to our customers. These range from helping them apply for an Illinois gaming license to collecting cash from the machines, to servicing and cleaning the VGTs at every location. Each location is also provided a dedicated Relationship Manager as their go-to person with any gaming related questions.
In short, a Terminal Operator should provide high-quality, functioning video gaming machines and ensure you’re following the letter of the law in the operation of those machines. It should be able to perform regular, routine maintenance of VGTs and fix them fast if one of them malfunctions for some reason. It should share key industry trends and best practices with you and help you apply those within your establishment to deliver a great gaming experience to your patrons.
The best Terminal Operators understand the video gaming business inside and out, and bring their knowledge and experience to the table in their partnerships. Along with that, they provide a level of service that allows licensed establishments to operate a video gaming area in a way that minimizes risk and effort and maximizes financial returns and patron satisfaction.