The Springfield City Council is set to debate updates to the city’s video gaming ordinance Tuesday during its committee hearing.

The proposed changes come months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a massive gaming expansion bill into law that, among other things, authorized six new casinos across the state, legalized sports betting, OK’d 50 video gaming terminals at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the duration of the annual fair and increased the number of video gaming terminals allowed per establishment from five to six.
In addition to updating language to reflect the new law, the city officials are taking the opportunity to make additional adjustments to the city’s gaming ordinance.

What’s being proposed:
• An increase in the number of video gaming terminals allowed per establishment from five to six;
• An increase in the first-time application fee from $50 to $500;
• An increase in the annual fee for terminal operators from $500 to $1,000;
• The imposing of an annual $500 fee for video gaming terminal establishment licenses;
• Extending the annual transfer of video gaming revenue to the city’s infrastructure fund through 2030;
• Annual compliance audits conducted by the Department of Business Licensing on at least 30 percent of licensees.

The compliance audits are meant to beef up enforcement of a 2014 ordinance requiring new licensees earn at least 60 percent of annual revenue from food and drink sales. That ordinance came about in response to the rise in storefront gaming parlors that sell minimal food and drink. Currently, audits are complaint-driven.

According to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s annual report on wagering in Illinois, Springfield in fiscal year 2019 had the highest amount of terminals in the state at 641 and the second-highest amount of net terminal income at $33.7 million.

Overall, the number of video gaming terminals across the state has grown to 32,033, bringing in nearly $1.6 billion in net terminal income.

While the COGFA report cautioned that video gaming revenues could take a dip in some parts of the state due to casino expansion, Springfield business owners figure to make out well given the lack of competition from a brick-and-mortar operation.

Though aldermen had previously considered imposing a cap on the number of establishments allowed to have video gaming in town, such language is not included in the proposed ordinance.