Elgin continues discussion on video gambling fees

  • Alexander's Cafe is among 32 establishments with video gambling terminals in the city of Elgin, whose liquor control commission has been discussing implementing yearly licensing fees.

      Alexander's Cafe is among 32 establishments with video gambling terminals in the city of Elgin, whose liquor control commission has been discussing implementing yearly licensing fees. Elena Ferrarin | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/14/2019 1:03 PM

Elgin officials continued discussing Wednesday the possibility of implementing licensing fees for video gambling, which has been allowed in town since 2013.

Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley, who's been researching the issue at the direction of the liquor control commission, proposed two new license fees, one for bars and restaurants with video gambling machines, and another for distributors of the machines.

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Distributors -- there are eight licensed in the state, according to the Illinois Gaming Board -- could be required to pay a $1,200 yearly fee for each video gambling terminal. That's the same charged by the city of Aurora, Cogley said.

Bars and restaurants could pay the city a yearly fee of $25 for each video gambling terminal. That's the same amount charged by South Elgin and the lowest among 12 communities surveyed, including East Dundee, West Dundee, Carpentersville and Aurora, Cogley said. Those communities charge an average $440 per video gambling terminal, and Waukegan charges $1,000 per terminal, he said.

The city also could cap the number of allowed video gambling terminals to the current 143, and licenses would be nontransferable, according to the proposed changes. Mayor David Kaptain said that might help appease any negative reactions among bar and restaurant owners.

Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger said she wants to look into making video gambling an "accessory use" to ensure establishments don't rely on video gambling as their major source of income. "If the business is not doing well and it's staying alive because of the machines, that becomes a video gaming place that serves food," she said. The commission should look at the big picture and the overall effects of gambling on the community, Rauschenberger said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Councilman Terry Gavin objected to the "accessory use" idea, saying that might hurt some of the existing establishments, particularly smaller bars. Kaptain said it also could hurt veteran and fraternal organizations that have video gambling.

Cogley said the majority of the 32 licensed establishments that have video gambling were in business before 2013, when video gambling was allowed in Elgin, and only about half-dozen opened after that, he said.

The liquor commission -- which comprises all members of the city council -- didn't make any decisions and will continue the discussion next month after more research from Cogley.

The commission also fined five establishments found guilty of serving alcohol to minors in November, when police did compliance checks on more than 70 establishments over two days, Cogley said. Those were Alexander's, Mariscos El Charco, Otter Creek Wine and Spirits -- which got a $750 fine instead of $500 like the others because this was its second fine in five years -- Taylor Street Pizza, and Carmina's Restaurant and Banquets.

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