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Illinois Gaming Market

How Do Home Rule Municipalities Affect Slot Machines in Illinois?

January 8, 2019

As a small business owner either interested in or engaged in the operation of video gaming, Illinois’ home rule powers is an interesting topic. There are a variety of strong opinions (and some misinformation) surrounding the debate of home rule vs. non-home rule municipalities. To help provide some clarity, we have compiled some basic information surrounding the topic.

A Brief History of Home Rule

In 1970, an amendment to the Illinois State Constitution automatically authorized counties and municipalities having populations of over 25,000 residents to become home rule units.  Other municipalities had the ability to elect to become home rule units.  Further, a home rule unit may elect not to be a home rule unit.  Home rule gives these municipalities the ability to pass ordinances that would otherwise be prohibited by state law, including imposing certain taxes.  Only a few communities have voted their way out of home rule. Non-home rule units only have the specific powers granted to them by State law to set their local laws.  The full home rule sections of the Illinois Constitution can be found online.

What is a Home Rule Unit?

Specifically, a home rule unit is either a county that has a chief executive officer elected by the electors of the county or a municipality that has a population of more than 25,000. Municipalities of 25,000 or less may elect by referendum to become a home rule unit.

Home rule means that a municipality may “exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt.” To prevent local government from overstepping, the State legislature still has some degree of authority over municipal lawmaking.

Download a cheat sheet of video gaming industry termsHow Does Home Rule Affect Illinois Video Gaming

Section 65 of the Video Gaming Act provides that a non-home rule unit of government may not impose any fee for the operation of a video gaming terminal (“VGT”) in excess of $25 per year.  In contrast, home rule units of government are able to set their own fees and processes for the operation of video gaming within their city or county limits, and we’ve seen that take a variety of different forms:

  • Municipal fees per VGT or per location vary widely.
  • Some municipalities require certain additional licenses/permits before a VGT install or location go-live 
    • They also can limit the number of licenses permitted in their municipality for the year


Home rule powers can affect the way your business engages in video gaming, so it is necessary to be a well-informed business owner.  At Accel, we are very knowledgeable about the fees and permits required by each home rule unit.  Contact us for additional information on your specific municipality!

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