Mundelein jacks up fee for video gambling machines

Mundelein restaurant and bar owners will have to pay more - much more - to operate video gambling machines.

The village board this week increased the annual fee for gambling terminals to $1,000 per device, up from $150.

Fourteen local businesses have a total of 69 video game terminals.

The fee generated $10,350 for Mundelein last year, and the increase is expected to net the village an additional $58,650 annually.

The increased fee is effective immediately for any businesses seeking video gambling machines for the first time.

Businesses that already have licenses will not have to pay the increased fee until they renew by May 1, 2019, Village Administrator John Lobaito said.

No trustees opposed the fee increase. But one Mundelein resident, Joe Piontowski, spoke up before the vote to raise concern about the price hike.

"It's a pretty big hit," said Piontowski, who manages the local Lakeside Recreation Center. That business has five video gambling machines.

Even though the new fee is significantly greater than the old amount, Piontowski said he expects business owners will still "write the check" each year because the machines are so lucrative.

Some other suburbs charge much more than $150. The fee is $500 per terminal in Carpentersville and $1,000 in Wheeling, North Chicago and Waukegan,

Conversely, the per-terminal fee is just $50 in Round Lake Beach.

Other towns, including Buffalo Grove and Elk Grove Village, require businesses to buy an annual license rather than pay a per-machine fee.

Trustee Scott Black said he "wouldn't be surprised" if other communities raise the annual terminal fee, too.

"Video gaming is relatively new to the village and the state as a whole, and when we started out, the village didn't really have a feel for what level of fee was appropriate (or) what the market would bear," Black said.

People gambled nearly $32.1 million on video machines in Mundelein in 2017, according to Illinois Gaming Board data. That activity generated about $129,764 for Mundelein and about $648,819 for the state.

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