Illinois Lawmaker Opposes Dave & Buster’s Proposed Gambling Plan

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Dave & Buster’s at the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Maryland, on September 7, 2022. Dave & Buster's announces second-quarter earnings Wednesday afternoon. Jim WATSON / AFP

An Illinois lawmaker hopes to say “Game Over” to a popular restaurant chain’s plan to allow gambling on arcade games. 

Dave & Buster’s recently announced that they will let people bet money on arcade games with their friends. But Illinois state Rep. Daniel Didech, who chairs the state’s House Gaming Committee, doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

“I think there are some spaces and environments that are just not appropriate for gambling to be pushed on people, especially places where there are lots of children,” Didech told PlayUSA

In a proactive move, Didech introduced the Family Amusement Wagering Prohibition Act (HB5832) to pre-emptively counteract Dave and Buster’s plan. The prospective Illinois legislation seeks to eliminate game wagering at family-friendly venues and to prohibit promotional activities that encourage such betting at these sites.  

Anti-Gambling Group Also Against the Idea

An anti-gambling group also opposes the idea. In an interview with MarketWatch, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, Keith Whyte, said “Unlicensed and unregulated gambling is associated with increased gambling problems in adults and youth. We call on state gambling regulators to examine the legal justifications and gambling-addiction risks of ‘social’ gambling, especially in settings that cater to youth and families.”

What is Dave and Buster’s?

Dave & Buster’s operates a chain of restaurants, each equipped with a bar and arcade games. According to their policy, anyone under the age of 18 or 21 (depending on the location) must be accompanied by a guardian who is at least 25 years old to enter the premises. 

D&B is a popular venue for kids’ birthday parties as well as adult social gatherings such as company events and fantasy sports drafts. Additionally, some D&B locations enforce a curfew, requiring guests under 21 to leave the premises by 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission has expressed significant concerns about Dave & Buster’s proposal, specifically regarding potential violations of Ohio law related to illegal prizes for skill-based amusement machines. The Commission is currently seeking additional information from Dave & Buster’s.

How is Gambling at D&B Possible?

A new strategic partnership combines Lucra’s proprietary gamification software with the Dave & Buster’s app. This integration enables loyalty members to compete digitally, earn rewards, and unlock exclusive perks while enjoying friendly competition at Dave & Buster’s. The result is an unparalleled, gamified experience that bridges the sports arena and the arcade.

The company hopes to change how people compete. They’ve created (what they call) a safe and trustworthy platform for friends to challenge each other. Instead of just using money, they’ve made it fun, friendly, and social. Lucra hopes to remove any negative feelings people might have about competitive activities.

What’s Next for the Family Amusement Wagering Prohibition Act?

Illinois’ legislative session is scheduled to conclude on May 24, providing Representative Didech with a three-week window to pass the bill. 

The bill has been assigned to the Rules Committee, likely with subsequent assignment to Didech’s House Gaming Committee. Didech plans to engage in discussions with regulators from the Illinois Gaming Board and stakeholders in the gaming and restaurant industries. Following these conversations, he will seek to advance the bill through the Gaming Committee.