Danville weighing its own licensing process for video gambling

DANVILLE — With three Danville establishments already approved for the new state-licensed video-gambling machines, and at least one with terminals churning out winnings and government revenue, the city has decided to consider a local licensing process that would require the establishments to get a sticker and pay a fee for the machines.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said all the details have not yet been worked out, but he anticipates a proposal going to the city council's public-services committee next month. He said the plan will include requiring a fee and sticker for each machine.

The Illinois Legislature approved video gambling three years ago for truck stops, veterans groups, fraternal organizations and other establishments, such as taverns and bars, that have liquor licenses, and this year, the Illinois Gaming Board has been overseeing implementation of the statewide system, including licensing the establishments. The state board, through a central communications system, monitors all the terminals in real time. Local governments have the authority to prohibit or further regulate the machines if they choose.

Vermilion County's ordinances prohibited the gambling machines altogether, but ordinances in the city of Danville did not.

This summer, as the state licensing process got going, two businesses in unincorporated areas of Vermilion County, the I&I Steakhouse on East Main Street close to the Indiana border and the Little Nugget on Henning Road west of Danville, applied to the gaming board for state licensing, but had to ask county officials to change the county ordinances to allow the terminals.

The county board supported the change and also added language requiring such establishments to get a newly created liquor license, category K, with an annual fee of $2,500, which is at least $1,000 more than the annual fee for their previous licenses.

The county bars and other establishments that have chosen the category K license would have upgraded from one of the following county liquor licenses:

— Class A, for hotels, motels and restaurants, with a $1,500 annual fee.

— Class B, for taverns, with a $1,000 annual fee.

— Class C, for night clubs, with a $1,500 annual fee.

— Class E, for fraternal organizations, with a $950 annual fee.

— Class F, for the sale of beer and wine only, with a $900 annual fee.

Establishments in incorporated areas of the county, including Danville, were also applying to the state to get the terminals, but the city did not take any action at that time to change its ordinances requiring local licensing. But now, the council will be taking up that issue.

Regardless of whether there are local licensing fees for the terminals, both the city and the county will get revenue from the machines because they provide the liquor licenses.

The county's annual $2,500 licensing fee will be revenue in addition to what the machines generate. The state receives 30 percent of the net terminal income generated from each licensed terminal, and 5 percent of that goes to the local government entity that issued the liquor license. The other 70 percent of net terminal income is divided equally between the terminal operator and the establishment hosting the terminals.

According to Vermilion County officials, about half of the 18 establishments in unincorporated areas of the county that hold liquor licenses have upgraded to the $2,500 category K license. And, according to the Illinois Gaming Board website, only four of those establishments, including the I&I Steakhouse and the Little Nugget, have completed the state licensing process, which was swamped with applications earlier in the year.

The gaming board reported in early October, a few weeks after the statewide system went live, that it was trying to process more than 2,200 applications.

In Danville, only three establishments — Dale's Place, Turtle Run Golf and Banquet Center and O'Brien's Corner Tap — have completed the state licensing process so far, and more than 15 others have approval pending, according to the state. Countywide, including all incorporated areas, a little more than a dozen establishments have been approved for a state license, with more than 40 pending.

Each establishment can have up to five terminals, which means countywide, there could be almost 300 video-gambling terminals if all complete the state licensing process and request the maximum number of machines.

According to the state board, no local establishments reported activity in September or October, but five did in November. BJ's Pump, the VFW and Fast Lanes bowling alley, all in Hoopeston, recorded activity from terminals in addition to Turtle Run Golf and Banquet Center in Danville and the Little Nugget west of Danville.

The gaming board's monthly activity report shows $20,735 was wagered at Turtle Run in November with $18,312 in winnings, for a net terminal income of $2,422, with $606 going to the state and $121 to the city. At the Little Nugget, a total of $26,297 was wagered with $24,451 in winnings; $461 went to the state and $92 to the county. And at all three establishments in Hoopeston, a total of $39,360 was wagered with $35,475 in winnings, so the state collected $971 and the city $194.

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antigambler wrote on December 30, 2012 at 9:12 am

Too late now for a successful casino in Danville!  Convenience gambling trumps casinos for their best customers----addicted gamblers.  Over 9,000 Illinois gamblers have signed up for the Illinois Self-Exclusion Program because they know that their gambling is out of control.  They could be arrested for trespassing at a casino, but not at a convenience-gambling location.

Online gambling is also trumping brick-and-mortar casinos in Australia and other places where it is legal.  A push is on to legalize online gambling in the U.S.  The writing is on the wall for the success of brick-and-mortar casinos. East St. Louis Casino Queen investors read it and sold out to their employees.  Why would they sell?  They must think their profitable run is over.  The Davenport, Iowa Rhythm City Casino has been on the market for two years, with no takers.

A recent story in the Chicago Tribune said that the State of Illinois would not benefit from more casinos.  Only casino owners would.

If Illinois legislators approve more casinos, it can only mean that they have sold out to lobbyists' arguments because if they actually looked at the evidence (and were smarter than a french fry), they would not vote for more casinos.

Call your legislators at 1-217-782-2000, and tell them to eat their spinach (as Governor Quinn put it) and stick to the important issues, and not waste time on talk of more gambling.