Crystal Lake city council members could adopt an ordinance prohibiting video gaming machines long before any local liquor establishments have even requested to install them.
The council during its regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, at the Crystal Lake Municipal Complex, 100 W. Woodstock St., will consider an ordinance banning video gaming machines.
The subject of video gaming first came up during the May 1 council meeting when most members said they opposed them and didn’t want to bring gambling to Crystal Lake.
The state adopted the Illinois Video Gaming Act in 2009 permitting video gaming terminals in certain establishments throughout Illinois. While using the games, players make cash wagers and play electronic casino-style games such as video poker.
However, the state attached a caveat to the law stating that municipalities prohibiting the games would not receive any percentage of funds the state generates from licensing video gaming, according to city of Crystal Lake documents.
Municipalities allowing video gaming will receive a portion of the tax revenue generated by them through the Local Government Video Gaming Distributive Fund, according to city documents.
Under the state law, businesses with on-premise liquor licenses could install the games. Currently, there are 55 businesses in Crystal Lake which hold on–premise liquor licenses, meaning the alcohol is sold and consumed on site, said Deputy City Manager George Koczwara.
At last month’s council meeting, Stephanie Drougas spoke on behalf of her employer, 777 Illinois, located in Lake in the Hills. She explained her company will place gaming machines in bars and restaurants, and told council members the games could boost the city’s restaurant/ bar industry, and provide jobs such as hers, according to the city council minutes from May 1.
Drougas estimated the city could earn about $1,000 per machine with an average of five machines per establishment, the minutes state.
She added that gaming machines are calibrated to pay out at least 80 percent of the time. Money for payouts are kept in a vault within the liquor establishment, similar to an ATM machine, and a bar employee would handle the payouts, according to the minutes.
Concerned that the games would prey on the weak, most council members spoke against allowing the machines, according to the minutes.
However, councilwoman Ellen Brady Mueller said she did not think the games would turn Crystal Lake into Las Vegas and speculated people looking to play the games would find them in nearby towns. Mueller said she would be interested in hearing from Crystal Lake bar and restaurant owners, according the city minutes.
The Illinois Gaming Commission has completed the rules required under the new gaming act, city documents show. The state currently is in the process of licensing operators – the companies that will lease the machines- and will soon start licensing the restaurants and bars that install them, Koczwara said.