Video gaming terminal fee increase tabled after protests from local business owners

Matter set to be revisited at May 24 Oregon City Council meeting

Mike Arians stands by the six video gaming terminals located in The Road House, a bar in Oregon owned by his daughter, Amy Marquis. Arians runs the establishment day-to-day. The Oregon City Council is considering raising the annual fee per terminal from $25 to $250, an increase allowed by a recent change in state law. If the fee is raised, local proprietors would pay half; the company that owns the machines would pay the other $125.

OREGON — Oregon City Council members again put off deciding whether to raise the annual video gaming terminal fee.

At their March 8 meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to table the matter until May 24. The annual fee is charged on June 1, City Administrator Darin DeHaan said.

“It gives us time to go back and look at pre-COVID and COVID revenue [from the gaming terminals] and see how much of an impact that made,” Finance Commissioner Terry Schuster said.

The matter originally was considered at the council’s Feb. 23 meeting, but council members postponed making a decision after hearing protests from local business owners who rent video gaming terminals.

At the March 8 meeting, Mayor Ken Williams proposed tabling the matter for a year to give businesses a chance to use profits from the terminals to assist in recovering revenue lost from COVID-19 impacts.

“We could wait a year without any harm to the city and then when we do it, we do it as a tiered basis,” Williams suggested.

According to the Illinois Gaming Board’s video gaming monthly revenue reports, Oregon made $173,685.95 from video gaming terminal taxes and fees in 2021.

In a separate interview, DeHaan said $40,000 of that money, goes into the city’s General Fund to support general operational expenses, $50,000 goes into the City Hall Capital Improvement Fund to help pay for the upkeep of the building and the remainder is allocated to the Economic Development Fund.

“[The Economic Development Fund supports] things that spur economic growth, like downtown flowers, landscaping and watering, to our contract with an economic development consultant, website design and maintenance, brochures, newsletters, some facade grants, etc.,” DaHaan said. “We also used it to help get the Farmers’ Market started last year.”

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner reports on Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties for Shaw Media out of the Dixon office. Previously, she worked for the Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan, and the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.