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Bloomington Council Mulls Future Of Video Gambling, Supports Parkview Inn License

Jeff addresses the council
Mary Cullen
Corporation Counsel Jeff Jurgens presents options to limit the city's video gaming licenses at the Bloomington City Council's Committee of the Whole meeting July 16, 2019.

Bloomington is still mulling over what to do with the city’s year-and-a-half long moratorium on new video gambling licenses. City council members agree they want video gambling to be limited in some way.

City staff presented council members at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting with three options: limit the number of video gaming licenses, have no limit, or extend the moratorium for the third time.

Council member Joni Painter said she supports capping video gambling as it currently stands.

“If a business can’t make it on its own merits without video gambling, then they’re a crappy business,” Painter said.

She said she's not anti business, she's anti-building a business on the backs of the city's poorer residents.

The city currently licenses 52 businesses with a combined total of 243 terminals. Painter wants it to stay that way.

Unlike the Town of Normal, the city’s current laws do not allow for video gambling parlors. Video gambling cannot make up more than 50% of the establishment’s revenue.

Council member Scott Black suggested a pay-to-play approach.

“There’s X number of terminals, and I think that number would be about 250, so just a few more, to speak to some of the concerns that we have,” Black said. “And every year you go out and you bid for your license and if there’s more people that want terminals than there are licenses, the price goes up.”

Black said fraternal organizations like the VFW should be charged a lower price under his proposed framework.

Council member Jamie Mathy disagreed with Black’s plan, saying it would be too easy to outbid small businesses.

The city's moratorium has been in place since February of last year. It's set to expire Sept. 1.

Council members Painter, Jenn Carrillo, and Donna Boelen will work with staff to prepare a range of options ahead of next week’s city council meeting.

Despite consensus to limit video gambling in some way, council members expressed a desire to allow Parkview Inn to obtain a video gambling license. The restaurant previously held a license before a fire destroyed the building in 2016. It reopened earlier this year.

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