Oswego village trustees discuss placing limits on video gaming

The city of St. Charles will no longer require businesses to wait a year in order to apply for a video gaming license.

Oswego village trustees recently renewed their discussion on whether to implement restrictions on video gaming in an attempt to reduce its proliferation in the village.

During the July 18 Committee of the Whole meeting, staff presented trustees with different options, including putting a cap on the number of video gaming licenses, putting a cap on the number of gaming cafes, putting a cap on the number of gaming licenses for gas stations and convenience stores and putting a cap on the number of gaming terminals.

“We don’t want this perception to get out there that we’re Las Vegas East.”

—  Oswego Village President Ryan Kauffman

Another option would be to require establishments with a gaming license to be a certain distance from another establishment with a gaming license. Based on the discussion at the meeting, the village plans to ask residents their thoughts on video gaming as part of a community survey.

Staff also plans to add information in the village’s quarterly newsletter about the revenues video gaming generates for the village. Trustees also plan to discuss temporary sign regulations for all businesses in the village at a future meeting.

Video gaming was approved in the village in May 2013. At that time, it was restricted to 10 locations.

In 2015, the village eliminated the restriction for the number of locations. Currently, there are 32 licenses approved or in the application process.

There are currently 12 gaming cafes in the village and 142 gaming terminals. Village trustee Tom Guist said the village should create limits on what gaming establishments can have as far as signage.

“I think that’s a part of the perception that we have of gaming in the village,” he said. “I think the signage is a big part of the perception that maybe residents have that we have more of these businesses than they’re comfortable with.”

Guist said he would be for putting restrictions on how close gaming cafes can be located to each other.

“I think the gaming cafes are different from business owners that want to add some gaming terminals to their business,” he said.

Trustee Kit Kuhrt said he thinks the village needs to do a better job of showing residents how much revenue video gaming generates for the village. The village receives about $400,000 annually from video gaming.

“It’s not raised from a property tax levy,” he said. “Every quarter, we show where it came from and what it can be applied towards…And people will start understanding the revenue stream.”

Kuhrt said he would not be in favor of putting a cap on the number of video gaming establishments in the village.

Oswego Village President Ryan Kauffman said residents have approached him and said the village needs to address the issue.

“Residents have reached out to me and said, ‘Ryan, do something about this,’ ‘’ Kauffman said. “The revenue is great, of course. But it’s more than just the revenue. I’m not against gaming per se. I’m really not. I have nothing against gaming at all. But it’s about a balance. We want to make sure that we are managing and maintaining the perception that Oswego is this business friendly community, of course, but also a family friendly community. Because we don’t want this perception to get out there that we’re Las Vegas East.”

Kauffman said such a perception could harm the village’s future prospects.

“I’d like to see a cap of some sort,” he said. “That’s what the residents asked of me. And that’s what I’d like to see.”

Village trustee Karin McCarthy-Lange agreed.

“Thirty-two licenses have been approved. We have a town of 34,000 to 35,000. So do we think that one gaming license per thousand people isn’t enough?”

Village trustee Karen Novy said there is no guarantee the village will continue to make $400,000 annually from video gaming.

“It’s not a stable income,” she said.

Novy said other towns have put restrictions on video gaming licenses.

“They only give a license to a company where 50% of the revenue is coming from nongaming resources. So that would allow a restaurant like the Tap House to have a couple of gaming machines.”