Illinois News

Quincy City Council considers raising cap on video gaming terminals

A gambler tries his luck on one of two video gaming machines Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2017, at Lucky Georges in Quincy. The city of Quincy is considering a pair of ordinances that would add to the number of gaming machines allowed per establishment. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson
Phil Carlson1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 17, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 17, 2017 1:57 am

QUINCY -- Video gaming within city limits could more than double if one of two proposals on the Quincy City Council agenda passes this week.

Aldermen have been considering a plan that would allow establishments to operate three video gaming terminals, up from the current maximum of two terminals per business. But next week there also will be an option to allow up to five terminals.

Andrew Boudreau, owner of Wine on Broadway, asked aldermen at Monday's City Council meeting to allow the 52 Quincy businesses that already have gaming licenses to operate the five terminals allowed under state law. Boudreau suggested the city institute a $1,000 annual charge for each machine.

"Give all the parlors a level playing field and give them an opportunity to be grandfathered in" with up to five video gaming slots, Boudreau said.

An ordinance that has had two readings would only allow five terminals at businesses with a Class I video gaming and liquor license. The original ordinance would charge $5,000 for a six-month Class I license or $10,000 if aldermen vote to approve one-year licenses.

City Attorney Bruce Alford said the original ordinance also would allow no more than five Class I licenses in the city at a given time.

The Illinois Gaming Board reports Quincy received revenues of about $224,000 from video gaming during the first 10 months of 2017. There are 103 gaming terminals operating in the city and up to 52 businesses have licenses.

The Illinois General Assembly approved video gaming in 2009 as one of the revenue streams to help cover costs of the $31 billion Jobs Now capital spending plan. Regulations allow 35 percent of winnings to go to machine operators, 35 percent to businesses that have machines and 30 percent to the state. The state then remits 5 percent of the total winnings to municipalities and counties.

The Quincy City Council approved video gaming in the city in 2012, but set a limit of two terminals per business.

The Rev. Tom Rains, of First Southern Baptist of Quincy, was among those who opposed the establishment of video gambling. He said there has been little notice that an ordinance is up for consideration.

"This is bad economics for the city," Rains said. "Every impartial individual, including the head of the economics department at the University of Illinois, said it hurts the economy."

Rains said studies indicate that for every $1 that video gaming takes in, it takes $3 out of a community.

Opponents also have said video gaming is addictive and does not enhance the families of gamblers.

Boudreau said the wait time for gaming terminals in his own business led him to ask for the five-terminal change.

"At peak times, people are waiting on (our two machines) all the time. It could be for five minutes or it could be for an hour," Boudreau said.

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