BATAVIA – Video gambling has become big business in Batavia.
In the first nine months of this year, the 35 machines at seven Batavia locations generated a net income of slightly more than $1.2 million, according to a report from the Illinois Gaming Board.
The Batavia City Council voted to lift its ban on video gambling near the end of 2016, at the request of business owners who said they needed to offer gaming in order to remain competitive.
The machines have become a revenue source not only for the business owners, but for the Batavia city government as well.
The city collects an annual fee of $1,000 per location from the distributors who own the video gambling terminals.
Mayor Jeff Schielke, who did not support the council’s decision to lift the video gambling ban, is proposing that this fee be increased to $1,500.
There is also an annual fee of $25 per machine that the city receives from the businesses owners.
Each of the businesses has five terminals, meaning the city currently collects a total of $7,875 in fees per year.
But the big revenue for the city comes from its 5 percent cut from the gambling action.
According to the state gaming board report, the city collected $60,653 in the first nine months of this year.
The state of Illinois takes a far larger share at 25 percent, sending $316,573 to Springfield through September.
Video gambling revenues to the city of Batavia have grown steadily.
In 2017, the city received $26,984. Revenues climbed to $56,208 in 2018 and are estimated to total $75,000 this year, much higher than a budgeted figure of $45,000.
For 2020, the city’s draft budget estimates $75,000 in video gambling revenues.
Now, Funway Entertainment Center in Batavia is seeking to add video gambling to its wide range of amusement offerings, sparking a debate among aldermen over the expansion of gaming in the community.
Funway, 1335 S. River St., is asking the council to allow businesses holding a Class E-3 liquor license to offer video gambling.
The E-3 classification is for bowling alleys and amusement centers, with Funway being the lone holder of such a liquor license in Batavia.
Businesses need a video gambling license from the state, but municipalities can regulate what types of businesses, if any, may apply.
Currently, the city of Batavia has designated four business classifications that are allowed to have video gambling.
These include holders of a Class A liquor license for a tavern, as well as restaurants with a Class D liquor license. The other two classifications allowed to offer video gambling include fraternal organizations and truck stops.
The state gaming board has two methods for arriving at the same net terminal income figure.
One is simply to identify how much money goes into the machines, subtracted by how much is paid out.
The gaming board report for Batavia though September shows the amount of money going in at $4.7 million, with $3.5 million going out, for a net income of $1.2 million.
However, because the machines frequently reward patrons with winnings that they tend to replay, the gaming board also tracks the amount played and the amount won, which are much larger figures.
The gaming board report for the same period shows $15.3 million played and $14.1 million won, for the same $1.2 million net income figure.
It is the one truck stop location in Batavia that far and away does the most video gambling business.
Speedway, at the heavily-traveled intersection of Kirk Road and East Wilson Street, saw more than $1.5 million go into its machines, with more than $5.2 million played for a net terminal income of $423,345 through September, according to the gaming board report.
Running second is Crosstown Pub & Grill, 1890 Mill St., with more than $1.1 million inserted into its machines and $3.9 million played during the same time period, for a net terminal income of $297,022.
A restaurant, a fraternal club and two taverns are posting smaller, similar numbers for the first nine months of 2019, according to the gaming board report.
The machines at Rosati’s Pizza, 322 E. Wilson St., received $529,677, with nearly $1.8 million played and a net terminal income of $145,451.
Batavia Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1197, 645 S. River St., saw $490,788 go into its terminals, nearly $1.2 million played and a net income of $101,090.
At the Full Moon Bar & Grill, 113 S. Batavia Ave., the gaming terminals took in $517,309, had more than $1.6 million played and realized a net income of $132,046.
Bulldog’s Cellar, 1 E. Wilson St., saw $518,192 go into its machines, with more than $1.5 million played and a net income of $110,796.
Acquaviva Ristorante, 35 N. Water St., had the smallest amount of video gambling activity, with $13,658 going into its machines, $42,650 played and a net income of $3,301.
From the net terminal income, the state and city take their 25 percent and 5 percent shares, respectively.
Another fraction, less than 1 percent, goes to a company called Scientific Games, which built and operates a computer system that monitors every video gambling terminal in the state.
The remainder of the net income, more than 69 percent, is split evenly between the distributor who owns and operates the terminals and the business owner where the machines are located.