Downers Grove, with a population of 50,000, is about 22 miles outside of Chicago. In about a year, residents will decide if they want to allow businesses in the suburb to house video gaming terminals.
After hours of discussion, village commissioners unanimously passed a reworked ordinance that will become a referendum on the November 2024 ballot.
Supporters of the measure look forward to additional revenue for local businesses, while opponents say approval of the referendum will perpetuate problem gambling.
Referendum allows up to 10 businesses to hold gaming licenses
The Video Gaming Act (VGA) took effect in July 2009, which legalized video gaming terminals (VGTs) in Illinois. In 2019, VGT laws and regulations in Illinois were updated through an amendment to the VGA. The state currently has more than 46,000 VGTs.
The original proposal in Downers Grove would have allowed gaming to begin on Jan. 1, 2024. When the commission decided to rework the ordinance to better serve the community, the referendum vote was moved to next year’s November ballot.
If Downers Grove residents pass it, gaming could open as early as Jan. 1, 2025. The referendum allows up to 10 licenses for local businesses.
Moose Lodge in Downers Grove already houses VGTs
The village’s plan includes several stipulations.
- Applying businesses must have been open for at least 12 months.
- Licensed providers have to abide by state and local regulations.
- Video gaming cafes are off-limits.
- Terminals in any establishment cannot be visible from the outside.
- An approved business must be 100-plus feet away from a school or church.
- The video gaming area in an approved business must be separated from the main space in an area of up to 200 square feet.
- Host businesses will pay an application fee of $1,855 plus a $1,500 annual fee.
One existing establishment already offers gaming in Downers Grove. The Moose Lodge would need to apply for a license if the referendum passes. The Moose Lodge currently has video gaming with approval from the Illinois Gaming Board, the organization that oversees all gambling in the Prairie State.
Illinois video gaming expansion continues
Last week, Steeple Chase Golf Club in Mundelein announced its plans to cash in on Illinois gaming, too. The business wishes to add three slot machines to its premises, but village officials are torn on the issue.
Meanwhile, casinos in Illinois are growing, with Bally’s Chicago now open and plans for additional casinos in the works. Plus, Circa Sportsbook recently became the latest online site to join the Illinois sports betting market.