The Waukegan City Council is aimed at stopping the rapid increase of video gambling cafés’ popularity, so last week it approved new rules on the matter. A moratorium on video gambling licenses, which expiration date is set on March 1st, was rolled out by the council for the time being while it has been paying much attention to forging new regulations.
Under the new rules which got greenlighted at the beginning of the previous week, new business which apply for video gambling licenses are required to be located to at least 1,500 from each other. The only exemptions will be made for local businesses that already hold operating licenses.
The ordinance was given the nod under a 5 to 3 vote. The Aldermen who did not back the new rules were Sylvia Sims Bolton, 1st, Patrick Seger, 2nd and Edith Newsome, 5th.
The head of the judiciary committee which initially reviewed the proposal, Ald. Lisa May, 7th, the community had been protesting against such establishments. Ms. May explained that new rules would ban the existing opportunity for two or even three venues offering video gaming terminals to open in a very close proximity to each other, but some exceptions could still be made.
The state regulation of video gambling is also mirrored by the new law, under which a special authority able to bring the new rules into effect is given to the city. In addition, the authority is also given the powers to revoke operating licenses in case that their holders do not pay the taxes owed to the city or fail to take the necessary measures in order to prevent gambling-related harm and crimes associated with their opening.
Increased Fees to Be Implemented
Apart from the fact that the new ordinance is to make sure that operators offering video gambling are located at at least 1,500 feet from each other, the proposed new rules would also increase the fee paid by businesses per a machine from $1,000 to $1,500. The increase could be beneficial for the city as it would help it cover the additional administrative costs to take operating license applications to the council for review. The new gambling law enforcement efforts would also get additional funding through the increased taxes.
Ald. Greg Moisio, 3rd, commented that he would back gradual increase of the fee’s amount on a yearly basis,
Ald. Lisa May, 7th, is known for not being a great supporter of video gambling. However, video gambling has been considered one of the main drivers of some struggling venues in Waukegan to remain operating, which was exactly why she does not want to see the above-mentioned tax increase that could inflict great harm to the businesses.
So, Ms. May recommended that the fee should remain the same for the time being, but further said that the finance committee of the local council needed to take the issue into consideration, despite the fact that under the proposed new rules there is to be a 3% increase in the fee on an annual basis.
A rising concern about video gambling cafés, and especially franchise which are not owned by a local company has been shared by Ald. May, too. According to her, such establishments were considered as places where local residents could gamble.