Video gambling profits begin trickling in to cities

2012-11-20T04:01:00Z 2012-11-26T14:04:17Z Video gambling profits begin trickling in to citiesBy KURT ERICKSON - H&R Springfield Bureau Chief Herald-Review.com

SPRINGFIELD — The city of Pontiac is $386 richer this month, thanks to the state’s new video gambling law.

Baby Bulls, a longtime tavern and eatery in the community, is among hundreds of establishments throughout Illinois that recently installed video gambling machines.

While the lion’s share of the tax revenue generated by the machines will go to pay for new road, bridge and school construction projects, local communities also will be receiving a share of the proceeds.

But many cities and towns are unsure how they will spend the money, primarily because they don’t know yet how much they’ll be getting.

“We’ve heard no projections of how much this program will generate,” said Robert Karls, city administrator of Pontiac.

When told that five machines installed at Baby Bulls generated $386 in tax revenue for the city during the month of October, Karls laughed.

“Now we can stay open the rest of the day,” he said.

According to a monthly report issued by the Illinois Gaming Board, wagers at 714 machines in October brought in more than $346,000 for the state. Local governments received nearly $70,000.

In October, players wagered more than $491,000 at Starship Billiards in Decatur, resulting in $2,069 in revenue for the city.

Mattoon, which has five licensed establishments, saw $3,639 in revenue last month. Charleston received about $1,000 from the three taverns offering the machines.

At the Avenue Tap in Silvis, players plunked down $113,000 in October, resulting in the city receiving $664.

Some money paid to other cities include: Effingham’s five licensed establishments brought in $979; the Glass House Tavern in Lincoln brought in $364; Road Ranger in Tuscola secured $1,008; and two sites in Taylorville reaped $1,583.

The amount of income is expected to grow as the rollout of video gambling continues throughout the state. The state already has licensed nearly 1,000 terminals, but less than a quarter of those are fully functioning.

kurt.erickson@lee.net|782-4043

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