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More gambling

By Jim Killebrew

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[May 17, 2014]  On Friday The Courier posted an article about the Lincoln City Council considering a proposal for “pour license” for those with a Class A liquor license to be able to serve drinks in their establishment, essentially converting some space into a bar, solely for the purpose of being allowed to install a video gambling machine. The request has come from an owner of such an establishment who believes his business is not competitive with other businesses that have the gambling machines.

The business owner estimated his machine would provide approximately $2,000 a month to the city through the five percent tax the city imposes on the machines. Of course the crux of the matter must at some point be the money involved, both for the city with its five percent and the state’s share as well. That leaves a tidy sum of profit for the business owner as well. Although as the City Treasurer pointed out the Council originally approved the gambling machines on a 9-1 vote last year, they must now consider the ordinance to approve selling liquor by the drinks in local food stores and convenient marts.

The article did cite Alderman Marty Neitzel having some reservations about approval of the idea with her quote, “What are we doing with Lincoln? I mean we’re out here trying to do the best for Lincoln.” Excellent point Alderman Neitzel! It is tempting to look at another golden goose egg and count the money before it hatches, but your hesitancy has at least pointed us in the direction of what might adding liquor by the drinks in our local food stores coupled with more gambling machines going to produce for Lincoln?

The Mayor offered a statistic that is interesting: He noted that if the city received “$75,991” last year for their five percent cut from the operation of the gambling machines through taxes, it meant the people lost “1.5 million dollars” over the year. I wonder if the people in Lincoln, Illinois can afford to lose that much money over the year to the gambling machines. Of course it is each person’s choice and responsibility, but when the money is gone, where do some, perhaps many, of those people turn? What happens to the members of the families when grocery, gas, utilities, rent or mortgage money is gone? People turn to the benevolence agencies that are either faith-based or state supported.

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The bottom line is this: A few owners will make a generous amount of money on their legalized gambling machines and their ability to sell liquor by single servings. The state will receive their share of tax money through the venture, and the city will receive more in tax money as well. Conversely, however, contrary to the statement the prospective business owner who wants the pour license thinks, most of the money will be lost by citizens of Lincoln, which means the money made is money received from the hardship and loss from others. So, the question is valid Ms. Neitzel, “What are we [City Council members] doing with Lincoln?”

I urge the City Council members to vote no to food stores serving liquor by the drink just to enable the business to install another gambling machine. I think the “pour license” is a poor idea.


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