Illinois Casinos May Soon Allow Ex-Cons to Apply for Jobs - Newstbt.com
In order to address the growing demand for job-seekers in Illinois’ gaming industry, the state may soon implement a policy authorizing ex-convicts to apply for these positions. This could be a major step forward in increasing employment opportunities and providing additional support for those looking to transition back into society.
“I think all individuals in The Land of Lincoln should be given an opportunity to work,” Peters said.
Last week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a bill granting more powers to the Department of Insurance. This week, he may sign one more bill that would give individuals with felonies the opportunity to work in the state’s casinos. Currently, Illinois casinos legally disallow those with felony convictions from holding positions. Senate Bill 1462, passed in May, could change all that if signed into law by the Governor. The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago), would enable ex-cons to apply for an occupational license from the gaming board, allowing them to work in casinos for nongaming positions. The bill was mostly supported on a party-line vote of 78-27 and has the support of both labor unions and the Illinois Gaming Board. Peters believes Pritzker will sign the bill, saying, “I think all individuals in The Land of Lincoln should be given an opportunity to work.”
If the proposed law is passed, the Illinois Gaming Board will have new authority to review the types of convictions, the time since conviction, and the severity of the charges of potential license holders in order to determine if the person may pose a threat to public interests or gaming integrity. The potential impact of this bill is extensive.
Bill’s Potential Impact
Estimates suggest that at least 1.5 million individuals have been convicted of felony-level offenses in Illinois, as stated in recent reports provided by the state’s Criminal Justice Information Authority. Although a significant portion of those charged have served their time and met other post-sentencing requirements, many restrictions still remain in place, prohibiting them from enjoying many basic rights in society. Stepping up to address this problem, Senator Peters recently sponsored a bill, which provides former felons with employment in the state’s casinos. The bill’s main stated aim was to reduce recidivism rates and to offer offenders a second chance on their journey towards a more successful life. Despite the fact that many people regarded the bill as a controversial proposition, it awkwardly passed the House and Senate with little to no debate. As a result, the Illinois casino jobs market is set to grow further in the near future.
Illinois Casino Jobs Market Growing
Earlier this year, Casino.org reported that Illinois is the biggest land-based casino market in the U.S. outside Nevada. With the impending addition of Bally’s casino, an estimated 3,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent positions are projected to be created — putting a strain on the state’s capacity to fill such positions. The casino resort, located at Freedom Center in River West, is anticipated to open its doors by 2026. To make up for the delay, Bally’s Chicago just recently announced their need for 700 temporary employees, with a Medinah Temple opening planned for next month. However, jobs fairs and hiring postings for other Illinois casinos such as Hard Rock Casino Rockford, Golden Nugget Danville, Waukegan, Walker’s Bluff, and Wind Creek Casinos — are still in full swing.
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