The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 9, 2013

Local governments cash in on gambling

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — A few businesses in Vermilion County aren’t the only ones to see additional money generated by the new video gaming machines in Illinois.

The transition began last year to allow a new setup of video gaming terminals throughout the state. Net income from those machines, however, is split between several parties, including the state and the municipality that issued the location’s liquor license.

That has signified a new source of revenue so far for the cities of Hoopeston and Danville — both of which have establishments with wagering under way at the new terminals.

Of the net income from the machines, 30 percent goes to the state. From that amount, the local municipality receives 5 percent.

As of the end of December, Hoopeston city officials had received $1,267 from the three establishments there. Danville had received $1,549 as a result of wagering at Snapper’s in Turtle Run while Vermilion County has received $2,206 from video gaming terminals at the Little Nugget.

So far that total is insignificant for the city of Danville, which is working through a budget with overall revenues in the millions. But with two more locations that have not started wagering and at least 15 more still awaiting application approval, income numbers have the potential to climb.

Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said it’s difficult for the city to gauge possible revenues without some kind of historical precedent.

“It’s hard to determine until we have at least one year of what revenue opportunities can be generated,” he said, adding the city had not attempted to hash out a rough estimate of what revenue totals could be by the end of the year.

The overall funding for states and municipalities has grown exponentially since the first machines started running in September. Gaming board reports indicate 61 machines brought in $22,607 for Illinois and $4,521 for municipalities in September.

The latest gaming report — covering the month of December — shows a vast change with 2,290 video gaming machines operating in the state at that point. Those machines brought in $1.7 million for the State of Illinois and $349,724 for municipalities.

In Hoopeston, Mayor Bill Crusinberry said the city has seen its share of state income taxes go down as a result of population declines.

“Basically, we’ve had a real struggle the last three or four years balancing the budget,” he said.

Two more Hoopeston businesses are awaiting application approval, signifying the potential for greater income. Crusinberry said the city has roughly estimated about $20,000 annually from the video gaming terminals.

The Hoopeston mayor is not counting on having the $20,000 just yet, citing potential factors that could effect the output for the gaming terminals.

“It might be a thing where it’s new now and then people tire of it,” he said.

Neither city, however, has heard much of an outcry from citizens as the new machines have been installed and operating. Eisenhauer theorized the lack of complaints was a result of the higher standard of control by the state.

“These are far more regulated than what was in place prior,” he said. “There are some aspects in what we have now as it relates of the oversight of payout and contributions to the city or to the establishment owner that are far more regulated, far more restricted and far more accountable.”