Sunday, October 22, 2017

Video gambling starts in Johnson County

N1110P22008CEven though video gambling has been in practice in Illinois since October of last year, Johnson County establishments are only just now getting in on the act with Big Boys On the Loop taking the lead in turning its machines on.

Three Johnson County businesses have received licenses allowing them to hook up to five video gaming devices, but only Big Boys is operational.

“The process and requirements have not only been time consuming for businesses, but the gaming board has been overwhelmed with applications throughout the state,” Greg Russell, owner of Big Boys with his wife Michele, said in a statement Friday.

Chuckwagon Cafe & Saloon and Beggs-Gurley Post No. 5222 have both received licenses and are in the process of getting their machines in and turned on.  Video gaming was said to be off to a slow start in Illinois at the beginning of the year but has since increased in availability. In February the state reported more than 4,300 machines were operational.

According to the Illinois Gaming Board, the Video Gaming Act “authorizes the installation of up to five licensed video gaming terminals in licensed establishments where liquor is served for consumption on the premises, as well as in licensed fraternal establishments, licensed veterans establishments and licensed truck stops.”

The Illinois Gaming Board monitors all licensed video gaming terminals through a central communications system to provide real-time accounting on how much money is wagered and won. For the month of February, the Illinois Gaming Board reported more than $170 million of activity with more than $158 million in payouts.

“Income generated from the video gaming terminals is divided among the state, local government entity issuing the liquor license, terminal operator, location and Scientific Games,” according to the Illinois Gaming Board. Scientific Games International is responsible for the construction of the central communications system (CCS) and its maintenance.

“Of the state’s portion, five percent goes to the local government entity that issued the liquor license,” according to the Gaming Board. “Of the remaining 70 percent, Scientific Games receives 0.7275 percent of the terminal net income as compensation for building and maintaining the CCS. The remaining income is divided equally between the terminal operator and location.”

Estimates for how much Johnson County can expect to see from video gaming is difficult to calculate until the machines are all up and running, but a comparison to neighboring communities puts gaming activities above $100,000 a month.  In Anna, more than $200,000 in wagers was recorded for the month of February for the lone establishment, Boswell’s Lounge, while its six other licensed establishments have yet gone online.

In Williamson County, with two of its ten licensed establishments in operation, more than $560,000 in wagers was record in February with payouts totaling more than $519,000.

“Local communities will also get a portion of these funds,”  Russell of Big Boys said. “The goal is to help collect needed monies for the state while increasing customer traffic for establishments that have the new Illinois gaming license.”

The Illinois Gaming Board hosts information and links to video gaming rules at http://www.igb.illinois.gov/VideoGaming/ where more information is available.

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