Decatur Amends Code To Combat Spread Of Video Gaming Terminals

Written By Cole Rush on November 29, 2023 - Last Updated on November 30, 2023
Map of Decatur, Ill. on a story about the city attempting to curb the expansion of VGT gambling in the city with new ordinances.

Decatur has amended its city code in an effort to curb the expansion of video gaming terminals.

Last year, the city in Central Illinois stopped granting new licenses to operators of the machines. Now, the Decatur City Council is doubling down by adding requirements and upping costs to existing license-holders.

Known as the gambling capital of Illinois, Decatur saw gamblers lose nearly $47 million at 100 businesses housing video gambling machines between May 2022 and April 2023. The machines can be found in restaurants and bars throughout the city.

New licensing requirements for Decatur businesses housing gambling machines

Illinois casinos total 15 with more on the way. Some cities, like Decatur, allow restaurants, taverns and bars to house video gaming terminals (VGTs), which are the same as slot machines.

Last week, the Decatur City Council took additional steps to control the proliferation of VGTs throughout the city. Restaurants and bars housing VGTs must now obtain a “V” license. The new license is an additional requirement on top of existing liquor licenses. It costs $100 annually and comes with various stipulations.

First among them is a 40% rule, dictating that a host establishment must make at least 40% of its revenue from non-gaming channels. This requirement kicks in on July 1, 2024. The city will begin auditing businesses in 2025.

Parlors that make most of their revenue from VLTs are excluded from this restriction. However, the costs of their licenses rose from $6,000 to $10,000 a year.

The ordnance also cracks down on businesses seeking back doors into video gambling. Decatur’s new city code narrows the definition of “restaurant,” so gas stations and convenience stores will not be allowed to host VGTs.

Some oppose code change

As with any gambling-related measure, Decatur’s amended city code has drawn its fair share of opposition. A recent city survey suggested some residents oppose the action. Some business owners decried the fact that regulations were tightened on them while parlors got off easy with a minor licensing cost increase.

Decatur is far from the only Illinois city going through a period of gambling expansion (and the controversy that accompanies it). Downers Grove, a Chicago suburb, set a November 2024 vote on allowing video gambling terminals.

A Mundelein golf club announced its intent to add gambling options as well.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Cole Rush writes words. A lot of them. Most of those words can be found in gambling publications such as PlayIllinois, iGaming Business, Gaming Today,,, ICE 365, and IGB North America. Cole also covers pop culture and books for and Cole has more than eight years of experience writing about gambling and entertainment.

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