City council to discuss video game businesses

By Leah Nicolini

The opening of two video gaming businesses and three more seeking approval in the last three months has DeKalb exploring regulations on video gaming terminals.

Tonight, City Council will discuss regulating video gaming focused businesses by limiting the number of licenses given out to the gaming industry at 5 p.m. in the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 South Fourth St.

“I think [having many businesses dedicated to video game terminals] detracts from the overall character of the community,” Mayor John Rey said. “I prefer the community not be known for bars and gaming as the primary source of business.”

Fifteen businesses in DeKalb have video gaming terminals as an accessory, meaning the games are secondary to the business operations. The majority of the businesses are bars, but industries like golf courses also own the games, according to the July 11 Committee of the Whole agenda.

Including the four locations that primarily operate as video gaming terminals, DeKalb has 88 machines, according to the July 11 Committee of the Whole agenda.

“The city has enough gaming terminals, and I’d hate to see a lot more open up,” 4th Ward Alderman Bob Snow said.

As of May, more than $15 million has been bet in video game terminals in DeKalb this year. Of that money spent, players won $14 million, the state earned $319,672 in taxes and DeKalb received $63,934 in taxes, according to the Illinois Gaming Board’s website.

To regulate the number of primary gaming businesses, options include permitting certain zoning districts for that industry, designating the industry as special use, meaning that the Planning and Zoning Commission would approve the business on an individual basis or creating minimum separation requirements, meaning that a certain number of that business would be allowed per multi-tenant center.

Also proposed as a method of regulation is to amend the Unified Development Ordinance to allow gaming terminals only as accessories to businesses, according to the July 11 Committee of the Whole agenda.

Of the 1,497 municipalities in Illinois, 150 do not allow video gaming terminals and 37 municipalities limit the number of terminals, according to the Illinois Gaming Board’s website.

“I think the original intent was that [the gaming terminal] would open up in restaurants,” Snow said.

During the City Council regular meeting, the Council will vote to raise the cost for the one-time application fee for a gaming terminal and the annual renewal fee. Currently, both fees are $25 and the proposed fee is $250, which is $250 less than originally proposed by city staff. If approved, this will generate an additional revenue of $17,775, according to July 11 City Council agenda.