The Safe Games Illinois Act is forging a path through the Illinois Senate, as the states Senate Housing and Community Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved the new piece of legislation. It will allow the state to rate games independent of the Entertainment Software Rating Board and to stick retailers who sell violent titles to minors with strict fines and penalties.
After passing with a 6-2 margin, the measure now will be considered by the state Senate.
In March, the Safe Games Act passed the Illinois House of Representatives by a margin of 91 to 19, a move that received major kudos from Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat.
“In todays world, parents face unprecedented challenges in monitoring and protecting their children from harmful influences,” Blagojevich said. “This bill will make their job easier.”
If the act becomes law, retailers who sell or rent violent or sexually explicit video games to people younger than 18 could face up to one year in jail or a $5,000 fine.
Retailers also will be required to mark violent and sexually explicit games with labels similar to the “parental advisory” labels found on music CDs, and to post signs explaining the game rating system. If retailers fail to act, they can be hit with a $1,000 fine for the first three violations and a $5,000 fine for subsequent violations.
Several Illinois state representatives have spoken out about the bill, saying that the measure, if passed, would be doing parents a huge favor.
Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat and one of the bills authors, emphasized the bills importance, because as a parent, its difficult to control what kids buy.
“Its troubling to think that a 14-year-old can legally buy a video game where gang members, prostitutes and criminals are the main characters,” she said in a statement. “This legislation is an important step to ensuring that children under 18 should not be able to purchase video games intended for adults.”
While the legislature throws its votes behind the bill, retail groups such as the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association, an organization known for its opposition to legislation regulating the sale or rental of video games, have remained vocal about the bills ramifications and how it goes against First Amendment rights.