The city of Aurora in Illinois is set to cap the number of video gambling terminals (VGTs) and impose larger taxes on operators that offer such machines. The decision on new video gambling regulations was made by the Aurora City Council that has been aimed at finding the right balance that would allow to video gambling to increase and at the same time would protect the performance of the Hollywood Casino.
Last week, City Clerk Wendy McCambridge made a few recommendations to the Committee of the Whole following a six-month study conducted by McCambridge and other officials to see the effect of video gambling on the traditional riverboat gambling casinos. The city of Aurora has already faced a moratorium on the permissions for the addition of new VGT licenses at the time when the study was carried out. In addition, the City Council decided to extend the moratorium on awarding new video gambling licenses for two more weeks in order to allow Aurora to enforce the new regulation.
Under the new regulatory provisions, the overall number of VGTs would be limited to 200 in the city, with establishments allowed to offer a maximum of five terminals. In addition, video gambling terminals would not be permitted to be placed within half a mile of a site which already features video gambling. Each shopping plaza would be allowed to feature only one establishment offering video gambling.
The new rules also include a procedure, under which an establishment would have the chance to apply for a special use to get a variance from the afore-mentioned half-mile limit.
Casino Revenue Must Be Protected, Say City Officials
Apart from setting a piece of new regulatory framework for video gambling in the city, the Aurora City Council was also focused on protecting the already existing Hollywood Casino. According to Ald. Michael Saville, the casino had been beneficial for the community as far as revenues are concerned, with its contribution having sponsored many capital projects. Ald. Saville further shared that the community needed to be protective to the casino, so the new regulation was necessary.
On the other hand, the new procedure which would allow an establishment to apply for a special permission from the half-mile limit is believed to bring further benefits to the city, as more customers could be attracted.
All establishments that currently have VGTs would be exempt from the new regulatory rules until the time when they are sold or go out of business. In addition, license fees are planned to be boosted from $100 to $300 on an annual basis. Terminal distributor fees would also be increased from the current $1,000 to $1,200 a year.
As far as casino revenue is concerned, officials have revealed that a steady drop in casino revenue was marked from approximately $15 million in 2006 to about $7 million in 2017. Despite that, the casino industry still contributes more to the city’s economy than the amount of $339,056 which was brought by video gambling to Aurora in 2017.