Central Illinois town earns first million in video gambling

Bloomington and Normal cities of Illinois saw combined revenue of one million dollars from the video gambling space last year.

Video gambling revenue not that much

The town of Normal has 61 video gambling terminals, which are expected to generate $220,000. The town operates on a $67 million fund every year. Pam Reece, the City Manager has offered some perspective when it comes to comparing this revenue with the needs of the city.

According to the City manager, the city functions on $67 million every fiscal year with the park maintenance division being the smallest division in the municipal units.  This division alone requires an estimated $3.4 million per year to operate, meaning the video gambling revenue only accounts for 6% of this.

She concluded that although video gambling revenue is good to have, it is not much in the large scheme of things.

Normal limiting the number of gambling licensed businesses

video gambling machinesThe first video gambling terminals were received in 2013 with only four establishments being licensed to operate. This number has gradually grown to the current 15. Reece explained the reason for only a small number of businesses being licensed to operate video gambling terminals. She stated that the town’s video gaming and liquor licenses are linked meaning that gaming licenses are just as restricted as liquor licenses. She added that the businesses operating video gambling terminals are also required to adhere to certain restrictions such as keeping a distance from schools, churches and residential areas.

The town of Bloomington is different.

This city received its first video gambling terminal in 2012 with seven businesses being licensed to operate. In this year, the terminals generated about $8,600. Today, the town has 57 licensed businesses operating close to 260 video gambling terminals. Last year Bloomington claimed close to $800,000 of the net revenue.

As is true for Normal, this amount contributes very little to Bloomington’s general yearly fund of $100 million.

Gambling legal at what cost

problem gamblingCindy Kerber, a gambling addiction specialist and professor at ISU has said that not only is this amount little, but it also comes at a greater cost for the society.

Kerber stated that most gambling outfits advertise that through gambling there will be tax benefits and employment opportunities. She added that it is also critical to consider the taxes lost as dollars flow away from businesses that are not gambling based, the lost job productivity as well as the rise in unemployment.

Reece, the City manager said that the effects of gambling are an issue that is being felt throughout the community adding that as the state is looking towards expanding gambling it should also look into it.

Reece stated that there are currently various researches being carried out on gambling, its addiction and the impact it has on the community. She added that with different formulas being used to calculate this impact, there was no sure way of quantifying in dollar amount the impact that gambling and its addiction has had in the community.

Reece noted that the town is doing its part in limiting the impact.  She said that with only 61 video gambling terminals, Normal was doing well in managing the number of terminals within the city. The same cannot be said of Bloomington. The city currently boasts of 258 gambling terminals and  ranks among the Illinois cities with the most terminals.

Statewide gambling expansion

Illinois’ governor JB Pritzker is hopeful that the expansion of gambling will boost the state’s economy by $200 million in the next year. Although the legislation is still not clear on this, the governor is expecting his democratic leg general assembly to come up with a bill by the end of spring.

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A Massachusetts native, blogger Angeline Everett grew up in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and earned a degree in casino management from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. After graduating, Angeline moved to Atlantic City where she joined the young team at the Borgata Casino as a compliance representative, while blogging on the side. After a few years in the back office, Angeline moved to the floor to work first at a casual poker dealer and later casual poker floor supervisor. Fascinated with games of chance since she was a child, Angeline currently divides her time between blogging and work on her first book.