New Lenox trustees are revisiting a discussion on whether to allow video gambling machines at places other than bars and restaurants.
Trustees Monday night agreed to allow a new ordinance to be drafted, creating a new liquor license that would allow some local businesses to add video gaming terminals in an effort to boost revenue.
In February, the board had declined requests by two liquor store owners and a 7-Eleven owner to find a way to allow them to serve alcohol in their stores in order to qualify for a video gaming license from the state.
Illinois has tied qualification for video gaming licenses with liquor licenses that allow consumption of alcohol on the premises.
At the time, Mayor Tim Baldermann and the other trustees had expressed concerns about open drinking and gambling in establishments that are not traditional bars or restaurants.
However, owners are now proposing building separate rooms in their businesses for gaming and drinking which would only be accessible with card readers and would be equipped with cameras.
“This card reader system is about as severe as it gets as far as security goes,” Baldermann said
Baldermann added that with his “personal concerns” addressed, he would like to help the businesses owners stay competitive in a difficult market.
“I want to help the small business owners as long as we’re taking care of the public,” Baldermann said.
Trustees brought up other issues that would also have to be addressed by a new ordinance — including the safety of an employee who may be alone, limitations on drinks and serving hours, the need for increased parking spaces, and accessibility for persons with disabilities.
Dominic Hewitt of Curo Gaming said he was there as a representative for the Speedway gas stations in town.
These gas stations are trying to stay competitive with other gas stations that qualify — due to the size of their property — as truck stops according to state law and therefore don’t require the liquor license in order to install gaming terminals, Hewitt said.
“The new gas tax, the increase in the minimum wage and new tobacco regulations have led to increasing difficulties for gas stations in Illinois,” he said.
Adding gaming terminals is necessary for “revenue replacement” rather than additional profits, he added.
Claudio Labriola of Route 30 Liquor said that he would make whatever changes the village requires in order to qualify for the license because he expects a sizeable drop in revenue once the legalization of recreational marijuana goes into effect Jan. 1.
New Lenox currently has about 18 businesses with a total of 85 video gaming machines. The village makes an average of about $220,000 per year from its portion of taxes from the business.
The village recently made other changes to its own video gaming regulations, which are stricter than the state’s guidelines. These changes include higher fees and increasing the cap on income that can come from video gaming from 40% to 50%.
The ordinance addressing a new liquor license will likely come to the village board for discussion in January, Baldermann said.
Separately, the village board Monday night approved a 2019 property tax levy of $2.97 million with an expected tax rate of .3231. Last year’s levy was $2.86 million with rate of .3263.