Video gambling is played at Feeling Lucky Lounge and Package in Decatur. It is one of 26,589 machines in establishments statewide.

Video gambling is played at Feeling Lucky Lounge and Package in Decatur. It is one of 26,589 machines in establishments statewide. 

A total of $878 million has been played on video gambling machines in Decatur since the state legalized the games in 2012, new data shows.

Illinois now has one terminal for every 481 residents.

Michael Gelatka, an executive board member and recent president of the Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association, said it's been of historic importance for the state.

“We think it has been one of the greatest small-business stimulators, probably in decades, in the state of Illinois,” said Gelatka, owner of G3 Gaming, a video-gambling company in Lansing. “It’s bringing additional revenue streams for over 6,000 establishments across the state and revenue for small towns across the state that never had the ability to generate that revenue in the past.”

The Video Gaming Act, which legalized video gaming, came about in 2009 as a way to help fund a $31 billion capital program approved by lawmakers that same year. The law also was seen as a way to help businesses struggling after the state’s indoor smoking ban went into effect the previous year.

After several years of delay, the first state-sanctioned terminal went online in September 2012.

“We helped fund a huge infrastructure bill that created a lot of jobs, we expanded small businesses throughout the state of Illinois that also created jobs, and we brought in some needed revenue for the state of Illinois,” said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, who sponsored the original video gaming bill. “I think, despite the fact that some are not huge fans of the concept, it generally seems like it has been a success.”

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A total of $44.4 billion has been played on machines, with the state netting $882 million and municipalities $176 million.

The state collects a 30 percent tax on net terminal income, or the amount gambled minus what is paid out, with 25 percent going to the state and the other 5 percent going to the local municipality. The remaining 70 percent of the income is split evenly between the businesses that host the gambling and the machine operators.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of “gaming parlors,” small businesses that often fill empty storefronts and emphasize the machines over food or drinks. Machines have even popped up in businesses not typically thought as gambling havens, such as floral shops and laundromats.

The law sets a minimum game payout of 80 percent. Each individual bet has a maximum of $2, with a maximum $500 payout per bet.

There are 81 establishments with the gaming terminals in Decatur.

Mount Zion had $18 million played on its 18 machines, and Warrensburg had $9 million played on five machines. Forsyth’s board of trustees has voted to ban the machines within village limits.

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