URBANA — Mayor Laurel Prussing is recommending changes to the city's proposed ordinance on video gambling after business owners largely opposed the rules as presented two weeks ago.
Cities and towns throughout Illinois are making changes to their local rules as a new state law allowing video-gambling terminals at certain businesses like bars and restaurants as a revenue-generating mechanism gradually comes into effect. Prussing has said the common approach for local governments has been to either allow or disallow video gambling in its entirety, but she wants to find a middle ground.
City council members will continue to discuss the proposed video-gambling ordinance when they meet as the committee of the whole on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.
Earlier this month, the city council began its discussion on how to deal with the new state law. As a starting point, Prussing suggested licensing up to six businesses in the city of Urbana for video gambling terminals. Those licensed businesses would have to pay a $1,000 fee per machine for up to five machines, and they would have been required to close their doors to anyone under the age of 21.
A handful of businesses owners at a July 9 meeting told city council members that, while they look forward to bringing video-gambling terminals into their bars and restaurants, they thought the proposed rules were too restrictive. Some owners have said operating the machines could be the difference between staying open and going out of business.
In response, Prussing has sent a memo to council members laying out further changes. She now is suggesting that the city license up to 12 businesses for video gambling. The under-21 restriction would be removed from the proposed ordinance, and the licensing fee would drop from $1,000 to $200 per machine.
The state law itself requires that the area containing the video-gambling terminals be closed off to anyone under 21 years old, but not the entire business.
Each business wanting a video-gambling license from the city must first get one from the state, and in her memo, Prussing notes that will take many months as the state board overseeing the program works methodically through hundreds of applications.
"If any other Urbana business wants a license, they could ask the council to approve an additional license and we could weigh the pros and cons," Prussing wrote in her memo to the city council. "Also, since this will take many months to get 12 in operation, new applicants would have some perspective on how it has worked for other businesses.
The Champaign City Council has already allowed video gambling as prescribed by the state law. The state will tax the net income of the machines at 30 percent, of which 25 percent goes into the state's capital projects fund and the remaining 5 percent is distributed to the cities which have chosen to allow video gambling.