Gambling Giant's GC Will Forgo Pay To Weather COVID-19

Law360 (March 26, 2020, 9:27 PM EDT) -- The general counsel of video gambling giant Accel Entertainment Inc. is giving up his base salary along with two other top executives in an effort to secure the company's bottom line during a shutdown of all video gambling terminals in Illinois due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a Wednesday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, general counsel and chief compliance officer Derek Harmer will forgo 100% of his base salary along with the company's CEO and chief financial officer until video gambling terminals are allowed to return. All the gambling terminals in the state are shut down until at least April 8 by an order of the Illinois Gaming Board issued March 16. 

"In light of these events and their effect on Accel’s employees and licensed establishment partners, we have taken action to bring our projected monthly cash expenses down to $2-$3 million during the closure to position the company to weather the temporary cessation of operations," the Illinois-based company said in the filing. 

Harmer's base salary in 2018 was over $274,000, and he also received a $100,000 bonus, according to a previous company securities filing. CEO Andrew Rubenstein's salary in 2018 was over $522,000 with a $650,000 bonus, and CFO Brian Carroll's was over $256,000 with a $55,000 bonus. 

Accel operates video gambling terminals and other gambling devices in the state, and according to a recent story by ProPublica owns a third of the state’s video gambling machines, which makes it the largest video gambling operator in the United States. 

Harmer has practiced law for 22 years, including 19 years in the gambling industry, and before joining Accel in 2012 he worked for Stadium Technology, Progressive Gaming International and WMS Gaming, according to his company's website. He also is a former deputy attorney general with the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission. 

Accel did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

"Accel Entertainment supports the decision to protect the safety of our fellow Illinois citizens," the company said in a statement Saturday. "We also acknowledge and respect the financial impact and strain that such closures will have on our partner establishments. Rest assured that Accel Entertainment is working around the clock to best help our partners."

--Editing by Bruce Goldman.

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