Bloomington City Council has voted to establish a new system in order to grant additional video gambling licenses within the city borders. Under the existing rules, a total of 60 video gambling licenses can be issued in Bloomington.
At the beginning of the week, the City Council gave the green light to an amendment under which an express lane for new development is set to be created. It would provide a video gambling operator with the chance to get a license ahead of the operators that have already applied and are currently on Bloomington’s waitlist. The agreement, however, would require City Council’s approval in order to be considered valid.
Also, in case a business operates in the area adjacent to the city, it would be given the opportunity to keep its already existing gambling license under the aforementioned agreement that was approved on October 25th. Under the recently announced amendment, video gambling operators would not be allowed to sell their licenses to another company unless their business is passed to a different owner.
The abovementioned 60-cap limit would remain valid for existing businesses. However, no such limit would be applicable to the licenses issued by Bloomington City Council as part of the newly announced development agreement.
Two City Council Members Vote against the New Video Gambling License Measure
The newest amendments to the video gambling licenses issued by the local authorities were passed in a 7 to 2 vote. The two Council members who voted against the measures were the ones from Ward 3 and Ward 5 – Sheila Montney and Nick Becker, respectively.
Although the new agreement could provide some city businesses with the chance for further development, there were people who remained concerned that the amendment would create a “slippery slope”. A representative of Herradura restaurant’s owner Armando Martinez said that the new measure was unfair to businesses that have been already operating and have been patiently waiting to be granted a video gambling license over the years.
The ordinance codified a previous deal that was reached between the city of Bloomington and Lu Lu’s Pizza in November 2019. At the time of that deal, the City Council agreed to raise the license cap on video gambling to 61 in case the remaining operating licenses were issued before the restaurant was established in the city. A video gambling license for the parent company of the restaurant was given the green light by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) on September 9th, after the restaurant opened over the summer.
As mentioned above, Ald. Sheila Montney, who represents Ward 3, was one of the City Council members who were against the policy change. She described the measure as inappropriate and said it was going against the intentions of the previous City Councils to put a cap on the number of video gambling licenses.
In past discussions, however, Tim Gleason, City Manager, has explained that the policy change is meant to add more economic benefits to the city through the development, beyond the current gambling revenue.