Council imposes 1-year moratorium on new video gambling machines

Council imposes 1-year moratorium on new video gambling machines

In this April 7, 2016, file photo, Nancy Lynch of Heyworth, right, and Curt Pennypacker of Normal try their luck on video gambling machines at Qik-n-EZ, 1607 Morrissey Drive, Bloomington. DAVID PROEBER, Pantagraph file photo

“Even though last year we got about $750,000 from the gaming terminals, the net wagering activity, the money that was drawn out of our local economy, was almost $16 million,” said Ward 5 Alderman Joni Painter, who proposed the moratorium that won unanimous City Council approval Monday night.

No new video gambling terminals will be allowed in Bloomington until March 1, 2019. During that time, the city staff will evaluate the impact of video gambling within the city and what additional, if any, regulations should be enacted on video gambling, said city attorney Jeff Jurgens.

Bloomington had 59 establishments with a total of 259 video gambling terminals in 2017, according to the Illinois Gaming Board.

Painter said her request also was prompted by a proposal for a Circle K convenience store in her ward that would sell alcohol and provide video gambling machines next door to the La Petite Academy day care center near the intersection of Hershey and General Electric roads.

The council voted unanimously Monday to refer Macs Convenience Stores’ final plat to the city’s planning commission for a public hearing because of questions about how far the front of the store would be from Hershey Road.

In 2015 and 2016 Bloomington was on the Illinois Gaming Board list of top 10 video gambling cities.The top 10 list for 2017 will not be be available until after the board submits its annual report to the governor’s office by March 1.

At the council’s Feb. 19 meeting, a majority of aldermen expressed no interest in levying a video gambling machine fee — a revenue source other municipalities, including Normal, have tapped. Normal charges an annual fee of $200 per video gambling machine.

The state allows placement of up to five video gambling terminals per licensed alcohol-serving establishment. Those permitted to have the machines include bars, restaurants, fraternal and veterans organizations and truck stops.

Net video gambling terminal income is subject to a 30 percent gambling tax — 25 percent for the state and 5 percent for the municipality.

The host establishments and video gambling machine vendor each receive 34.7 percent of the net income, and the auditing company the state uses to monitor net wagering activity gets less than 1 percent.

In other action by the council:

  • Unanimously approved support of a new 20-year McLean County solid waste disposal and recycling plan, which the town of Normal and McLean County already have adopted.

The Illinois Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act requires counties with a population exceeding 100,000 people to adopt a management plan for the municipal waste generated within the county’s boundaries.

Since the landfill west of Bloomington is expected to reach capacity by this fall, the Ecology Action Center developed a new plan stressing increasing recycling participation rates.

  • Unanimously approved tabling a vote on a memorandum of understanding with the Friends of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, an independent nonprofit organization that helps raise money for renovations and an endowment fund, so it can be discussed first at March 12 work session. Part of the agreement calls for the city to hire a professional fundraiser for the facility and the group to contribute to the position’s cost.

Older liquor licenses receive priority as Orland Park reviews video gambling applications

Older liquor licenses receive priority as Orland Park reviews video gambling applications

Older Liquor Licenses Receive Priority as Orland Park Reviews Video Gambling Applications

When it comes to winning a coveted license for video gambling in Orland Park, maturity, at least when it comes to age of a liquor license, is a boost.

With more businesses applying late last month for video gambling licenses than the village is initially approving, the oldest Class A liquor licenses will be given priority, according to the mayor and village ordinance, which reversed a longtime ban on the games.

In approving video gambling in early August, village officials set a maximum of 30 percent of eligible Class A license holders that have operated for at least 18 consecutive months, or 21 businesses, that would be considered for gambling licenses in the first year the ordinance is in effect.

The village opened up the application process Aug. 27, with 28 bars, restaurants and other businesses filing paperwork, according to the village.

Under the ordinance, if more applications were filed than the cap allowed, they would be considered in reverse order of the age of the liquor license.

Orland Park has more than 60 holders of Class A licenses, even though not all of them have been operating for at least 18 months. The Class A requires a kitchen and full restaurant menu and the requirement was meant to be an obstacle to video gambling cafes that offer limited food and beverage menus and derive most of their revenue from gambling.

The village is conducting background checks on applicants and the village board would have to approve gambling licenses, although businesses would first need approval from the Illinois Gaming Board, according to Mayor Keith Pekau.

The list of 21 applicants is topped by Silver Lake Country Club, which received its license in October 1970, and making the cut at 21 is Blissful Banana Cafe, licensed in November 2012, according to the village.

So far, at least 16 Orland Park businesses have filed paperwork with the state for approval to have video gambling, according to the gaming board.

According to the village ordinance, after the first year the ordinance is in effect, other applications for video gambling will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Before the 4-3 vote by the Village Board at its Aug. 6 meeting to lift the video gambling ban, Orland Park had been among a few communities in the south and southwest suburbs outlawing gambling terminals.

Before the first gambling machines went live in the state in September 2012, Orland Park officials in December 2009 had opted out of the state law, essentially barring the games in the village. Village officials decided last year to revisit the issue after some business owners said that not having the machines put them at a competitive disadvantage.

Businesses licensed for video gambling would be charged an annual fee of $1,000 per gambling terminal — state law allows a maximum of five machines per establishment — and an initial application fee of $2,500. Afterward, businesses would pay a $1,000 license renewal fee each year, according to the ordinance.

Locally, video gambling remains barred in Frankfort, Palos Heights, Palos Park and South Holland. In June, Cook County officials voted to lift a ban on video gambling in unincorporated areas of the county.

A consultant previously estimated Orland Park could realize a bit more than $415,000 in annual revenue from licensing gambling machines and the village’s share of gambling tax revenue.
Twitter @mnolan_j
via Daily Southtown – Daily Southtown
September 6, 2018 at 04:30PM

Gambling Café Approved for South Fourth Street In DeKalb

Gambling Café Approved for South Fourth Street In DeKalb

DEKALB – Seven was Brad Coppens’ lucky number Monday night.

During its regular meeting, the DeKalb City Council voted unanimously, 7-0, to grant Coppens’ proposed video gambling café, Maisy’s, a special-use permit and allow it to move into the vacant storefront at 850-852 S. Fourth St., DeKalb. Alderman David Jacobson had recused himself from the vote.

The decision was not without dissenters within the community. The establishment will sell alcohol and provide gambling services in close proximity to several educational facilities. Former Mayor Bessie Chronopoulos expressed her displeasure with the proposal prior to the vote.

“This is not a good fit for that area,” Chronopoulos said. “Maybe it’s time for the council to put a moratorium on video gaming establishments.”

A few on the council seemed to agree with Chronopoulos’ assessment, but not with her conclusion.

“I’m not thrilled about this project, but in good conscience, I can’t vote against it,” said Ward 5 Alderman Kate Noreko.

“Twin Tavern is closer to Lincoln School than [Maisy’s] will be to the schools over there. I see no reason not to move forward,” added Ward 2 Alderman Bill Finucane.

Patrick Fagan, alderman for Ward 4, agreed.

“I don’t like it being so close to the school,” he said, “but it’s within the law.”

For his part, Coppens agreed to the current ordinance’s strict regulation of his business’ operation, including consenting to fence his dumpster in so it isn’t visible to children passing by, hold off on selling alcohol until after 10 a.m. and keep advertising minimal, with a maximum of 40 percent of each window pane usable for ads.

Fagan introduced an additional amendment which would ban any additional signage, temporary or permanent, which mentions alcohol or gambling. The amendment passed 4-3, with Mayor Jerry Smith and Aldermen Finucane and Anthony Faivre, of Ward 7, dissenting. Faivre said that it wasn’t fair to Coppens to introduce further restrictions at this juncture.

“Let’s put that [amendment] up front [in the future], so that we can have that discussion prior to any investment,” Faivre said.

Mayor Smith suggested that a future Committee of the Whole should be held to discuss the ordinances addressing signage, and their lax enforcement.

With the proposal passing unanimously, the council voted—also unanimously— to waive a second hearing on the issue.

via Daily Chronicle

Less Revenue Means Increased Property Taxes

Less Revenue Means Increased Property Taxes

There are a number of reasons to vote “No” on prohibiting video gaming in Forest Park restaurants and bars, but none more compelling than the bottom line: Prohibiting video gaming would be bad for our local economy and for taxpayers.

If Forest Park bans video gaming, that revenue doesn’t disappear, it literally takes a walk over to one of our neighboring municipalities. Less revenue makes it harder for local businesses to grow and create jobs. Less tax revenue means the Village will become even more reliant on increasing property taxes.

Video gaming machines may not be the answer to all of our problems, but pulling the machines out of establishments now, after they have been here for two years with no real incidents or problems, puts our local economy and taxpaying residents at an unfair disadvantage. Please join us in voting ‘No’ on prohibiting video gaming in Forest Park.

Ted Rozmus and Colleen Dedecker
Forest Park residents
via Forest Park Review
September 2, 2018 at 10:40AM

‘Queen of Hearts,’ video gaming at convenience stores on Godfrey agenda

‘Queen of Hearts,’ video gaming at convenience stores on Godfrey agenda

GODFREY – Regulations on “Queen of Hearts” raffles will be considered by the Godfrey Village Board, as a local organization starts holding public drawings for the crowd-pleasing but sometimes controversial raffles.

Godfrey officials have been mulling new regulations for the Queen of Hearts raffles, which have become more popular and have created problems in some communities. The Alton-Wood River Sportsmen’s Club is currently holding a public Queen of Hearts raffle at 7:30 p.m. Mondays.

Club President Greg Naughton said the pot is expected to be between $3,600 and $3,700 for next Monday’s drawing. There was no drawing on Labor Day.

It has been going for seven weeks, but is not the first time they have done a “Queen of Hearts.”

“We’ve been running this internally for about 2 1/2 years for members only,” Naughton said.

Pots have ranged up to $13,000, with several in the $9,000 range.

The public event will be limited to a top prize of $125,000 for this raffle, but might increase for future games.

“We didn’t want it to get so big we lost control over it,” he said. “We wanted to get our rules in order.”

The raffles, based on a weekly drawing from a standard deck of cards to determine the winner, usually start small but can continually roll over and produce huge jackpots. In some Illinois communities jackpots have been reported at more than $1 million. Most recently in Eldred, one person won more than $400,000 out of a total pot of about $460,000.

According to the Godfrey Village Board agenda, the board is expected to discuss “Consideration and Approval of An Ordinance to Amend the Village of Godfrey Raffle License for Queen of Hearts Games.”

The meeting, normally held on a Tuesday, has been moved to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday because of the Labor Day holiday.

Mayor Mike McCormick said the proposed ordinance will be given a first reading, meaning it would be up for final approval at the next board meeting.

“It’s very generic,” he said of the ordinance, without discussing specific details. “It’s not real strict but it gives us a little bit of control if it gets out of hand.”

The raffles’ increasing popularity has also created concern about the impact of the events on small communities because of the large crowds drawn. The Eldred raffle crowds estimated at between 5,000 to 6,000 to the small town of about 250, located about 30 miles north of Grafton.

McCormick noted that the Sportsman’s Club has a large parking lot and has a number of “huge” events, so major issues are not expected.

“It’s more of a plan of what to do if it starts getting out of hand,” he said. “We’re just trying to get some sort of control over the negative things that could possibly come up.”

Naughton said if the club opens up the Lake Gate, they can easily park several thousand vehicles.

Another bonus is that the club has picked up several new members, and some older or inactive members have started coming out to the club.

He said proceeds from the raffles have been used to make improvements and remodel the club.

“It makes a difference,” he said.

The board will also discuss video gaming at convenience stores at Wednesday’s meeting.

Part of the issue is that the village requires a liquor license permitting the sale and consumption of individual drinks on site for video gaming, while convenience stores normally have licenses for packaged liquor.

Reach reporter Scott Cousins at 618-208-6447.
via Jacksonville Journal-Courier
September 4, 2018 at 10:33PM

State lawmakers again eye gambling expansion

State lawmakers again eye gambling expansion

Illinois lawmakers are once again looking at a big expansion of gambling as a way to prop up the state’s ailing finances.

A joint hearing of House and Senate committees last week took more testimony on an expansion bill that would add six new casinos, additional gaming positions at existing casinos and slot machines at horse racing tracks.

That part passed the Senate in 2017 but has never come to a vote in the House.

Last spring, the House added an amendment that adds even more to the mix. It allows racetracks to have table games in addition to slot machines. It also increases the number of video gaming terminals a business can have and authorizes more off-track betting parlors.

The state also is eyeing fantasy sports and sports betting, subjects that will be part of another hearing to be held in Springfield in October.

At the same time, the idea of expanding gaming in Illinois has been debated for years — bills have even passed, but were vetoed — but the expansion has never happened.

“I think there’s enough wind at our backs that if we struck the right balance, many (lawmakers) would say to themselves that this is worth doing as part of a totality of circumstances,” said Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, chair of the House Revenue Committee that was part of the hearing. “No matter who wins in November we’re going to remain structurally behind in what we need as far as finances. So there’s going to be a lot of pressure on us to do it.”

Zalewski pointed out both Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker have said the state needs to do a new capital construction bill. Expanded gambling could provide revenue to pay for something like that, he said.

Just when something might happen is another question. Zalewski said with a large number of lame ducks in the legislature, a gaming expansion bill might get more support before new lawmakers are seated in January. But he said expansion also needs to be done in the right way and shouldn’t be rushed.

“There’s a balance to strike and hopefully the sooner the better, because I think it makes sense to put this issue behind us and move on to other stuff.”

More gambling in Springfield?

However, Springfield lobbyist and developer Chris Stone isn’t so sure, and he’s got a stake in the issue. Stone wants to bring a casino to downtown Springfield along with video gaming positions that would be permanently located at the state fairgrounds. Right now, a Springfield casino is not part of the expansion bill.

“I don’t anticipate there’s going to be a lot going on in November, December or even early January if they have an early January session,” Stone said. “These things take a little bit of time, right?”

Stone said he is still interested in pursuing a Springfield casino.

“We continue to have discussions with people and continue to want to move forward,” he said. “The last time I looked at it there’s still nine of 10 aldermen who have signed on to at least authorize the legislature to locate a gaming facility here in Springfield. I think there’s support from the county as well.”

While expanded gaming is viewed as a revenue source for the state, there are some cautionary notes being raised. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability was asked to analyze the expansion bill and the impact it would have on gaming revenues. During the hearing, COGFA noted that adjusted gross receipts for the state’s existing casinos have declined every year for the past six years. Tax revenues from casinos have dropped while revenue from video gaming terminals has increased.

Interestingly, receipts at Indiana casinos also have dropped, and COGFA analysts think part of the reason is the proliferation of video gaming in Illinois.

The COGFA report estimated the new casinos in Illinois would only generate about $12 million annually in recurring new revenues for the state. A large part of that is because the bill lowers the tax structure on casinos.

“We’re adding 21,000 new casino gaming positions yet we’re only bringing in $12 million more from casinos?” asked Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights.

“That’s correct. It is not a popular thing for the commission to say,” said COGFA senior revenue analyst Eric Noggle.

Noggle also said that average casino gaming growth nationwide the last five years has only been 0.6 percent.

“It’s not an area where you’ve seen a lot of increase in gaming,” he told lawmakers. “People’s discretionary spending seems to be going in other places.”

At the same time, the bill raises taxes on video gaming terminals, which is supposed to bring in $104 million in recurring new revenue for the state.

Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, was at the gaming hearing in Chicago. He said he, too, was surprised by the low revenue number from casino expansion.

“Something as significant as gaming is in the state of Illinois, I would hope would bring more money into the state coffers,” Butler said. “At the end of the day, that’s the main idea of those of us in public positions why we would support gaming. We view it as a source of significant revenue for the state.”

Contact Doug Finke:, 788-1527,
Posted Aug 26, 2018 at 1:38 PM