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Geneva Wants to Opt Out of Video Gambling

Geneva City Council Committee of the Whole directs staff to draft language that would take the city out of the video gambling loop.

In Texas Hold 'Em, you can go "all in," if you want to wager your pot on the hand you're showing.

In the case of video gaming, a city or village can go "all in," too, but Geneva City Council members said at a recent Committee of the Whole meeting, they'd prefer to be "all out."

Actually, the words that nine of our 10 aldermen used were "opt out."

Presently, at least one Geneva business is seeking a state of Illinois license for video gaming: at 30 W. State St.

But the Catch 22 for the city is that it has no enacting ordinance in place.

"We have no procedure accommodating that," Geneva City Administrator Mary McKittrick said at the July 30 meeting. "Tonight, we’re looking to the council to answer the question of whether the city wants to opt out, or whether you want to enact regulations that would be tied primarily to our liquor licensing."

Faced with the option of allowing video gaming or amending its code, all Geneva aldermen except Sam Hill said they'd prefer to opt out. Hill simply indicated he wanted more information before making a final decision.

There are potential profits for a business that takes on video gambling machines—as much as $1,000 per week by some estimates—but the city's portion of tax revenue likely wouldn't be high, based on the percentage of tax and number of licenses it could allow.

Geneva developer and businessman Joe Stanton, who was in the audience July 30, said the city's take would be in the vicinity of 5 percent. Stanton said he had no stake in the game or strong opinion about what action the city should take, but he said the math was pretty easy to figure.

"It could be a bonanza for the restaurants," he said. "(But) it’s not a windfall that’s going to fix any streets."

According to state regulations, a business has to have a gaming license as well as a liquor license to be eligible for video gambling machines. If the city were to "opt in," it would attach stipulations to the liquor licenses, including fines for violation and hours of operation.

Some aldermen were opposed to the notion of an "opt in" for ethical reasons.

"In the end, what we’e talking about is profiting from a behavior that’s been prohibited," 5th Ward Alderman Craig Maladra said. "It bothers me that we would relax our standards ... For me, personally, the answer is no."

william kens August 13, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Joe stanton opinion can be thrown out the window, if it does not beneift him or his establishment than he of course would be against it.. Actually the percentage would be roughly 10 percent. Remember Joe, it's 10 percent the city did not have.
Max August 13, 2012 at 01:36 PM
No gambling, video or other.
Mike August 13, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Allowing any kind of gambling in Geneva will have definate and negative impact on the Community. I would not like to see gambling in Geneva. Do you really think, using the failed OTB parlors as an example, that businesses like Old Towne, Stockholms, The Grotto, Urban Grill, Aurillio's to name a few would increase their sales if gamblers had a choice to buy dinner, libations, and or put another coin in the "gambling" machine which one they would choose. In the long run overview, percentages gathered from gambling are insignificant at best but the proprietors and the community will be the real loosers. Gambling is addictive and "dammed" noisy to boot. Want to gamble? Go to Aurora, Joliet or Elgin and let Geneva remain the same great and quaint attraction that it is.
Chad Baker August 13, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I think gambling is a loser all around, for the gamblers, the taxing body, and the community. The tax money you receive from it is removed from other businesses that would have received the money if it wasn’t gambled away. You don’t see tax money growing on trees in Aurora and Elgin. With that said, I wouldn’t immediately ban it without some research and discussion. If you outright deny video gambling, you end up with bars selling pull-tabs or dice rolls and then you don’t see a dime of tax revenue and now have illegal gambling. It’s something that needs some input from the community, particularly the people that frequent the bars and restaurants that would be allowed to have video gambling. Let’s see if there is a demand for this in Geneva. My guess is there is not and the community, including myself, would prefer that we don’t allow any type of gambling in Geneva.
Carolyn August 16, 2012 at 06:15 PM
The percentage for the city would be 5%. The state of Illinois would get 25% and the establishment and the gambling machine industry would each get 35%.

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