DANVILLE — Greg Filicsky was able to make a living just selling food and drinks at Dale’s Place.
But it’s been a more comfortable living since the state in 2009 began allowing video-gambling terminals at taverns like Filicsky’s.
“Gaming has been great for us,” said Filicsky, who lives in the Sidell area and also owns the Sidell Grocery.
Just how great? He said the five terminals in his tavern generate 60 to 70 percent of his overall business revenue at Dale’s.
Danville officials have been taking a closer look at the percentage of revenue local businesses are generating from video gambling as aldermen considered ordinance changes that would deny liquor licenses to any business that generates more than half of its revenue from video gaming.
By state law, a business must have a liquor license to host video-gambling terminals.
The goal of the changes was to discourage the opening of so-called gambling “cafes” — where gambling is the major focus — in an effort to protect existing businesses and groups that aren’t solely reliant on gambling revenue but still depend on it to survive, like American Legion Post 210, VFW, Knights of Columbus and others, from the ensuing competition.
But city officials learned that Dale’s Place and other existing businesses with terminals generate more than half their income from gambling, so they discussed grandfathering them in.
One problem with that scenario that Filicsky noted: A liquor license can’t transfer to a new owner, so if he sold his business, the grandfather clause would no longer apply to the new owner. That would likely make his business far less attractive to any potential buyers.
So city officials are now studying how other municipalities, including Champaign and Urbana, have written their ordinances pertaining to liquor licenses and gambling venues in hopes of finding the best way to move forward.
Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said the city staff members have been gathering other cities’ ordinances but have yet to find a straightforward solution.
Aldermen on the city council’s public service committee will discuss the issue at 6 tonight.
“We do not desire that we become a gaming-café community, but how do you do that while protecting existing businesses?” Williams said.
Filicsky said he’s pleased that city officials have taken a step back to reassess.
“Everybody has been great and willing to work with me and other bar owners who had concerns,” he said. “I think there’s a better way to craft it.”