Patrons in McHenry County spend $294M on video gaming

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Nick Jaworskyj, tech supervisor at Awesome Hand Gaming, sets up the video gaming machines at Chi-Town Dogs on May 3, 2016, in Island Lake.

Shaw Media file photo

Caption

Nick Jaworskyj, tech supervisor at Awesome Hand Gaming, sets up the video gaming machines at Chi-Town Dogs on May 3, 2016, in Island Lake.
Lori Kuk of Wonder Lake tries her hand on a video gaming machine Oct. 7, 2016, at Big Fran's Boardwalk Gaming in Johnsburg.

Shaw Media file photo

Caption

Lori Kuk of Wonder Lake tries her hand on a video gaming machine Oct. 7, 2016, at Big Fran’s Boardwalk Gaming in Johnsburg.

Patrons spent more than $294 million gambling on McHenry County video gaming machines in the past year, although municipalities and businesses only see a portion of the profits.

That report is based on gaming numbers provided by the Illinois Gaming Board from July 2017 to July 2018.

The Illinois Video Gaming Act went into effect in 2012, and businesses rapidly began offering gaming terminals at bars, restaurants, veterans clubs, liquor stores and gas stations.

Some residents and city officials countywide have expressed concerns about allowing the machines, worried about rowdy clientele, visual appeal, gambling addictions and whether a business with gaming is considered
family-friendly.

The Grove Mart in Lake in the Hills generated the most revenue in the county from video gaming in the past year. The business is the only gas station in the village that is allowed to have gaming terminals because it qualifies as a truck stop.

Players put $15.7 million into the gas station’s five gaming terminals, won back $14.5 million and generated $58,741 for the village, according to records from the Illinois Gaming Board.

A business owner who wants to offer the machines must work with a licensed vendor who provides the terminals. Video gaming law in Illinois stipulates that vendors and business owners evenly split 70 percent of revenue generated by the machines.

The state gets 25 percent, leaving
5 percent to the municipality.

Lake in the Hills puts its share of gaming revenue into a general fund to pay for core services and doesn’t have a restriction on the number of licenses allowed, Village Administrator Jennifer Clough said.

“The village has not encountered any issues, including any public safety concerns,” she said. “The number of gaming licenses has remained relatively constant for the last three years.”

Business owners who want to offer video gambling first must obtain a liquor license. After they have a liquor license, the state of Illinois can grant a video gaming license. Some municipalities, such as Woodstock, have added other restrictions and require businesses to receive City Council authorization before putting in the machines.

Woodstock uses it gaming revenue – $260,692 this past year –  to pay for the Lighting on the Square and Summer in the Park events, its “Sister City” program and to supplement the hotel/motel tax fund and marketing efforts.

McHenry has the most video gaming terminals in the county, with 37 businesses offering 164 machines within city limits.

The city made $475,221 in revenue from gaming in the past year and puts the money into a general fund, economic development director Doug Martin said.

The city has several gaming parlors, including Stella’s and Big Fran’s Boardwalk Gaming, although city officials recently have wanted to limit the number and instead prefer gaming machines inside bars or restaurants, Martin said.

The revenue has served a purpose, however, he said.

“When video gaming was introduced, the economy wasn’t as robust as it currently is,” Martin said. “There were businesses that were barely making it, and gaming really assisted and allowed the businesses to stay open and operate.”

via Northwest Herald http://www.nwherald.com

September 23, 2018 at 12:24AM

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