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Batavia ups its take on video gambling

City making changes to ordinance

BATAVIA – As Batavia prepares for the introduction of video gambling in the community, city aldermen are making some changes to the game plan.

The Batavia City Council lifted its ban on video gambling in November, voting to allow local taverns, restaurants, social clubs and entertainment venues to install the gaming machines.

State law allows five video gambling machines in an establishment, and the fall ordinance approved by the council provides for a $25 annual permit fee per machine, to be paid by the business.

A revised ordinance, which is expected to be approved by the council Feb. 6, would charge the actual owner of the machines $1,000 per location for an annual permit.

The owner of the machines and the establishment hosting them are not the same, Batavia City Administrator Laura Newman said.

Mayor Jeff Schielke, who was not in favor of allowing video gambling in Batavia, said the key is to know who is providing the machines.

“I think it should be totally above board who they are and that we have addresses and phone numbers,” Schielke said. “We need to have a firm grasp with these machines that come into town.”

The revised ordinance also cleans up the language of the original, ensuring that businesses that already have coin-operated amusements and pool tables will be allowed to offer video gambling, and to make clear that the businesses will be subject to police compliance checks, Newman said.

Businesses offering video gambling must place the machines in separate areas for people age 21 and older, Newman said, and they must be within the view of employees. Each machine must have a sticker showing it to be a licensed terminal.

Under state law, municipalities receive 5 percent of revenues from the machines. If 12 businesses in Batavia each install five of the machines, the city could expect to receive $120,000 per year, on top of the permit fees, Newman said.

In order to receive a license, businesses must first apply to the Illinois Gaming Board.

Batavia Police Chief Gary Schira said that, so far, only Crosstown Pub on Mill Street near Randall Road has applied to the state.

Once approved by the state, the business would apply to the city, and the license would be issued by the mayor, with no action by the council needed, the chief said.

The introduction of video gambling in Batavia will leave Geneva as the only community in Kane County without the machines.

Batavia aldermen approved the original ordinance on a divided vote, with proponents saying they were responding to requests from local businesses, including the Batavia Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1197, the downtown Bulldog’s Cellar and Crosstown Pub.

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