Bloomington’s moratorium on video gambling will remain in place until after a key decision regarding sports betting is made by state legislators.
The beginning of the week saw the city’s aldermen vote 5 to 4 to extend the ban on new video gaming terminals (VGTs) to September 1st, despite the initially recommended date was April 9th. September 1st was offered as an expiration date for the moratorium by alderman Kim Bray because it is just after the end of the upcoming legislative session in Springfield, at which a gambling bill set to legalize sports betting in the state is expected to be unveiled.
Ald. Bray explained that she was willing to give the city more time to consider the possible impacts on the local community which such pieces of legislation could have. Alderman David Sage is also concerned with the impact which gambling legalization could have on the quality of life in the city. According to him, the proposed bills need additional study and consideration.
A year-long moratorium was rolled out by the city council in February 2018 in order to give city officials more time to explore the possible impact which video gambling could have on the community.
Extended VGT Moratorium Faces Opposition, Too
Of course, the council’s decision to prolong the moratorium with a few more months also faced some opposition, with some members of the council raising questions of the eventual impact which the moratorium itself would have on Bloomington.
A number of aldermen explained that the city has been living with video gambling for a period of at least two years, and institutional knowledge is set to be lost at the end of April when three Aldermen will leave the council. This is the reason why alderman Diana Hauman believes that the April 9th date should have been kept.
The vote “against” the moratorium extension until September 1st was also backed by aldermen Amelia Buragas and Scott Black.
Bloomington city council could also give the green light to a new annual fee for video gaming terminals, worth $500 per terminal. This is one of the proposals which are to be taken into consideration by local council members at the meeting on March 25th as part of their attempt to boost revenues for the fiscal year 2020.
The new annual fee on video gambling machines would bring about $125,000 of annual revenue for Bloomington, with around 250 terminals which already exist in the city. Currently, the video gambling revenue is not restricted, with the additional amount which could be brought by the new fee set to be invested in the city’s downtown or in new economic development activities.
As previously reported by city officials, a 6% increase was registered in Bloomington’s share of gambling tax revenue in 2018, in spite of the fact that the number of VGTs was smaller.