Urbana City Council seeking middle ground on video gambling
URBANA — City council members will get a chance to discuss a formal proposal to regulate video-gambling terminals at bars and restaurants when they meet as a committee of the whole tonight.
Under a relatively recent state law that legalized video-gambling terminals in Illinois, the city has the opportunity to approve more stringent rules regarding to what extent they will be allowed in Urbana.
Council members could take a preliminary vote tonight on an ordinance that would put limits on video-gambling terminals within city limits when they meet at 7 p.m. in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.
While most cities are voting to either completely allow or disallow the video-gambling terminals within the limits already set by state law, Mayor Laurel Prussing last month proposed that city officials find some kind of middle ground.
The ordinance they will look at tonight would allow up to six bars or restaurants to display video-gambling terminals. All of those businesses would have to close their doors to customers under the age of 21, and each of them would be allowed to display no more than five video-gambling stations, each of which would require a $1,000 licensing fee.
American Legion Post 71 got its video-gaming license from the state of Illinois last month, but it would still need the license from the city before patrons can start gambling.
The state's Video Gaming Act was approved in 2009, but its implementation was delayed until a court challenge was settled. The law allows the state to place a 30 percent tax on the net income of each machine — 25 percent goes into the state's capital projects fund and the other 5 percent is distributed to cities that have allowed video gambling.
In other business, a proposed roundabout on Olympian Drive in northern Urbana likely would be dead if the council approves of Prussing's proposed response to opposition from the Champaign County Board.
An initial proposal for the coming Olympian Drive extension called for a roundabout at its intersection with Lincoln Avenue. The proposal is under the city's authority, but in May, the county board voted 18-7 on a resolution asking the city to reconsider the design and replace the roundabout with a traditional intersection.
Prussing drafted a letter in response to the county board opposition. Part of it reads: "Respecting the concerns and wishes of the Champaign County Board, and in an effort to move the Olympian Drive project forward, the Urbana City Council agreed with the resolution's advice. The consulting engineer will be contacted and will revise the intersection design accordingly."
The placement of a roundabout at the intersection is the most recent controversy in a road project that has been hotly debated for years.
The draft of the letter includes a disclaimer: "Please note that in the event the Illinois Department of Transportation revises its policies on intersection design to require a modern roundabout to be considered as a viable alternative, the city and the county may have to revisit the Olympian Drive intergovernmental agreement and amend it to comply with the IDOT policies and procedures."
On Monday, Prussing will ask for city council support before she sends the letter and its sentiments to the county board.