Earlier this week, Sugar Grove trustees gave unanimous approval to a considerable increase in the fee charged by the village on video gambling machines.
The decision for the increase was made at a January meeting, at which local trustees discussed the assessment of a bigger video gambling terminal fee of $250 per machine every year. This is a significant increase for operators of so-called VGTs (video gambling terminals), who so far paid only $25 per machine a year.
But village trustees have not done anything illegal by boosting the annual fee charged on the machines. State law recently changed so that already allows communities to charge a total of $250 per machine annually. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, Jennifer Konen, the President of Sugar Grove village, explained that the $25 fee was not even worth the time and paperwork invested by village staff to collect such a low fee. After the state law was changed, she urged village staff to look into the fee structure.
Ms. Konen further noted that, as village president, she was supposed to look for more sources of fresh revenue for local coffers. She said that the video gambling machines fee would bring under $6,000 a year to Sugar Grove but it was still some extra money that could be used for projects that had remained underfunded until now.
New Video Gambling Machine Fees Due to Be Paid at the Beginning of the Next Fiscal Year
For the time being, there are only 4 locations in Sugar Grove that offer video gambling, including the American Legion, Graham’s C-Store, the Bliss Creek Golf Course-situated Open Range Grill, and the Grove Stop. All of the locations feature 6 video gambling machines, except for the Open Range Grill which has 5.
One of the trustees, Mike Schomas, who voted in favor of the proposed increase in the VGT fee, shared that he had some concerns regarding the addition of an increased fee to businesses that eventually got passed down to the local users. He, however, noted that the net effective sort of tax rate, as well as the perception, is higher in Sugar Grove than in other communities across the state.
The Village President explained that Trustee Schomas had some concerns about non-for-profit organizations that are offering some gambling services. She confirmed that, although there have been certain discussions on the matter, the proposal was unanimously passed by the trustees at the end of the day. She also reminded that the new fees will have to be paid at the beginning of the new fiscal year, which begins on May 1st, 2022.
As far as the future of video gambling in Sugar Grove was concerned, Ms. Konen shared that a new business interested in having the VGTs may be coming to the village. She confirmed there was a potential new gas station willing to set foot in the village, and they wanted to add video gambling services to their premises. The higher fee also did not seem to be bothering them in any way.
There have been mixed reactions to the increased video gambling machine fee on the village establishments’ part.
In January, the owner of Grove Stop said that it seemed like the village was trying to get more money from anywhere, and one of the sources was, obviously, video gaming. Sara Meadowcroft, the owner of the Open Range Grill, said she understood the increase but noted that, in her opinion, the percentage rate of the fee boost was a bit too high in one year.