CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — City leaders say they’re going to hold their cards for a while before choosing whether to allow more gambling.
If you’re looking to open a new video gambling parlor, you can’t do it in Champaign. A few months ago, the city council voted to stop issuing new licenses for places to have video machines. On Tuesday night, they decided to extend that ban.
The majority of the city council voted in favor of extending the new license ban, but for different reasons. Still, most of them were asking the same question: Does the city really need more of those places?
Jim’s Place, Lacey’s Place, Boochie’s Place, and Joobie’s. Whatever the owner decides to call them, they’re here to stay.
But if you’re going to play, you’ve got to pay.
“14 million dollars was lost on video gambling machines in the City of Champaign last year,” said council member Greg Stock, “14 million dollars.”
“This gaming thing..it’s just not doing something to our community that is great,” said council member Clarissa Fourman, “The amount of gaming cafes– it’s a lot.”
Illinois Gaming Board records show there are almost 60 places to play in Champaign. Those popped up between the time it was legalized in 2012, and when the city imposed the moratorium this past February. That was set to expire in a few weeks, so the council had a decision to make.
“Even though we like to think that we can make these decisions better than the average American, it’s not our job to make these decisions on behalf of the citizens of Champaign,” said council member Tom Bruno.
Leaders don’t seem to have a solid consensus on whether these places are good or bad, or whether the results they produce can be ugly. City staff members say the community doesn’t seem to mind.
“We have not heard a lot of negative feedback about the moratorium,” says deputy liquor commissioner Matt Roeschley, “Maybe somewhat surprisingly, but there hasn’t been a lot of community input on that.”
Mayor Deb Feinen says the freeze is only so they have time to come up with a policy on what (if anything) should be done.
“All we’re doing is having a moratorium so we don’t have an increase of this type of business while we decide whether or not we’re going to regulate or what the appropriate regulation is,” said Feinen.
The license moratorium has now been extended until January. The city will use the time to decide whether a policy change is needed.