TO: Lincoln City Aldermen, Treasurer Conzo, City Clerk Gehlbach
FROM: Keith Snyder, Mayor
DATE: May 6, 2012
RE: Video Gambling
On Sunday, April 1,
2012, the State Journal-Register published an article that mentioned
that the Illinois Gaming Board was taking the position that existing
municipal ordinances that currently ban gambling in licensed liquor
establishments may, in fact, also ban video gambling in those same
establishments once video gambling comes on line. As you may
remember from our previous discussion on video gambling, our current
city ordinances do prohibit gambling in licensed liquor
establishments. (Our current ordinance 3-7-24 states: "No gambling
shall be permitted and no gambling device shall be kept in any
premises licensed hereunder.")
As a follow up to
that article, I had City Attorney Bates send a letter to the
Illinois Gaming Board asking for their interpretation of our
existing ordinance. A copy of Bill's letter is attached.
In response to
Bill's inquiry, he received the attached email from Emily Mattison,
the Acting Deputy General Counsel of the Illinois Gaming Board, on
Friday, April 27th. As you will see in her email, Ms. Mattison
states that our existing ordinance 3-7-24 "would serve to prohibit
video gaming in establishments with a liquor license within the City
of Lincoln" and that the City "would not have to take an extra step
in opting out of video gaming to effectuate this prohibition."
She goes on to
point out that truck stops that do not hold a liquor license would
be able to obtain a video gaming license. The only establishment
that would currently qualify as a truck stop in Lincoln, Thornton's
on Woodlawn Road, currently does also hold a City of Lincoln liquor
license, so it would not be eligible to apply for a video gambling
Thus, although our
current ordinance language was passed long before State-licensed
video gambling was conceived, it is the opinion of the Illinois
Gaming Board that the language does prohibit any licensed liquor
establishment in the City of Lincoln from applying for a video
gambling license with the Board. Attached is a document from the
Gaming Board's website that lists Lincoln as having prohibited video
gambling by virtue of our existing ordinance.
The topic of video gambling came up two years ago when the state
announced that gambling using video gaming machines was going to be
legalized in Illinois.
The state planned to require all establishments that currently
have gaming machines "for entertainment only" to switch to
state-approved machines. These new gaming devices were to be
connected to a centralized computer system on the state level and
would result in the state gaining revenues from game play.
[to top of second column]
However, the program has since been plagued with numerous
difficulties and setbacks. Nonetheless, the plan does still exist to
legalize video gaming in Illinois.
When the topic was first introduced on the state level, it
appeared that city aldermen would have to make a decision one way or
the other. To that end, several individuals and organizations came
to council meetings to encourage the city to prohibit video gaming.
In addition, several local business owners and organizations also
came forward asking the city to allow the gaming.
With the information Snyder shared Monday night, council members
don't have to make a decision if they don't want to. It has already
been made for them by prior administrations.
During discussion on the issue, Alderwoman Marty Neitzel asked
when this ordinance had been passed. City attorney Bill Bates said
the ordinance had been written in the mid-1960s, then amended in
1987 and 1997. He said he felt the original prohibition would have
been written in the early version, and he doubted the amendments
made in '87 and '97 would have had any effect on it.
Neitzel then emphasized no one on the current council would have
been involved in making that decision.
The current city council can, however, reverse this ordinance if
it so chooses, but for the time being, it appears video gambling
will not be allowed in the city of Lincoln.
[By NILA SMITH]
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