Illinois Introduces New Bill to Restrict Dave & Buster’s Arcade Betting

Dave & Buster’s plans to add a feature to its customer loyalty app that would enable consumers to “bet” on arcade games played in its venues. But a lawmaker has introduced a bill aimed at making such activity illegal in Illinois.

The restaurant/bar and entertainment retailer known for bowling lanes and laser tag, has more than 220 locations in North America, with five in Illinois. According to the company, they have as many as 5 million members of their loyalty program, many of whom have the D&B app on their mobile phones.

Dave & Buster’s intends to have a feature in their app that permits customers to compete for real money in challenges and contests based on the outcome of an arcade game, like skee-ball or air hockey. There could be a limit placed on the amount that can be at stake.

Debate on the New Illinois Gambling Bill

One Illinois lawmaker, State Representative Daniel Didech (a Democrat representing the 59th District who is also chair of the House Gaming Committee) has submitted a bill that would prohibit “family-friendly arcades” from offering “wagering” on games. House Bill 5832 has been sent to the Rules Committee, where it will be refined before possible debate on the floor.

In his opposition to the plans by Dave & Buster’s, Didech appears to be leaning on the need for regulatory oversight to protect the public.

“It is inappropriate for family-friendly arcades to facilitate unregulated gambling on their premises,” Didech wrote in a press statement announcing his bill. “These businesses simply do not have the ability to oversee gambling activity in a safe and responsible manner.”

But not everyone agrees with Didech that Dave & Buster’s plan is “gambling.” That includes Lucra Sports, the vendor that would work with D&B to create the new features for its customers.

“We’re very conscious to not use the word ‘bet’ or ‘wager’ anywhere in our product,” Michael Madding, Chief Operating Officer of Lucra Sports, said in an interview with Marketplace this week. “We say things like ‘challenge’ or ‘competition’ or ‘contest.’”

At the heart of the dispute between D&B and opponents like Didech is the definition of what a “bet” or “wager” is. Proponents of the D&B model would call the activity a “contest” determined by skill. The same distinction is used to differentiate fantasy sports from sports betting.

Gambling Continues to Fold Into American Culture With D&B Announcement

Earlier this week, the popular restaurant and entertainment retailer Dave & Buster’s announced that it would permit wagering on select arcade games in their venues via a partnership with gaming technology provider Lucra.

The retailer revealed that it plans to add a feature that allows users of its Dave & Buster’s app to place friendly wagers on the outcome of arcade games in one of its 222 locations in North America. Friends can place the wager and handle the “social betting” transaction within the D&B mobile app.

Users must be at least 18 to place the real money wagers, which will be based on the outcome of actual arcade game results. A bet limit is likely to be instituted. The company says the feature will be unveiled on their app, developed by Lucra, in the coming months.


About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a veteran writer and contributor for Gaming Today. He has written three books, including The Ballplayers: Baseball’s Greatest Players Remembered, Ranked, and Revealed, which will be released in 2024. Holmes has previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball.

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