Rock Falls City Council clears way for gaming machines
Money raised – maybe $25,000 a year – will pay for infrastructure work, mayor says
ROCK FALLS – The City Council agreed Tuesday night to allow video gaming machines in bars and restaurants.
The gambling ordinance first made the council agenda in 2009, when the state passed the Video Gaming Act. Designed to raise money for infrastructure projects such as road and bridge work, the act was held up by a lawsuit that’s recently been settled, and now the state plans to implement it.
Many municipalities, including Dixon, now are considering whether to allow the machines.
Under the law, any bar, restaurant or establishment that has a liquor license and that is approved by the state Gaming Board can have up to five machines, once the municipality passes an ordinance allowing them.
Tuesday was the first time the matter has appeared on a city agenda since 2009.
Per its new ordinance, the city will charge machine owners an annual fee of $25 per machine, the maximum allowed by state law.
A machine’s proceeds will be taxed 30 percent, 5 percent of which will go to the municipality and 25 percent to the state. The rest will be split by the owners of the bar and the machines.
Mayor David Blanton, who’s not a fan of video gaming, estimates that the city will make $20,000 to $25,000 a year, which will go to the city’s general fund to pay for infrastructure work.
“Personally, I don’t like the idea, but if we don’t pass the ordinance, then nobody can do anything,” Blanton said.
Matt Prescott owns the Candlelight Inn restaurants in Rock Falls and Sterling.
“Have I considered [video gaming]? Yes. You have to consider it,” Prescott said. “That’s a lot of revenue that’s going to be generated. For you to not have that revenue, puts you at a competitive disadvantage.”
Still, if his customers want to see machines in his restaurants, they will be there, and if they don’t, they won’t, Prescott said.
A state legislative panel has estimated that video gaming could generate at least $287 million a year statewide.
Dixon also is in the process of considering a video gambling ordinance.
Council to pay $20,000 for city TV promotion
ROCK FALLS – The City Council agreed Tuesday to pay $20,000 for the rights to a TV program that will be used to promote Rock Falls.
Voting for the agreement to appear in a segment of “Today in America with Terry Bradshaw” were Aldermen Mark Vandersnick; Glen Kuhlemier; Jim Schuneman; David Hand and Lee Folsom.
Alderman Daehle Reitzel voted no.
“I don’t think we’re ready to have pictures taken in town,” Reitzel said. “Our riverfront’s not done; [First Avenue] bridge isn’t done ... lots of things need to be cleaned up first ... we need to present ourselves in our best image.”
Reitzel also said the money should come from the tourism budget, not the general fund.
The money has been budgeted for, and will come from the administrative budget, which is part of the general fund, City Administrator Robbin Blackert has said.
Crews will be filming in Rock Falls in July. The program will focus on the quality of life in Rock Falls, education, recreation and tourism.
The city will approve the editing, and “once that’s done, then they’ll give us a schedule of when it will be aired,” Mayor David Blanton said.
The 30-minute documentary and 5-second spots will air on 19 networks and the History Channel, he said. Plans also call for using the recorded material to present to businesses interested in coming to Rock Falls for economic development.
“As a marketing tool, it’s a real bargain I think.”
To learn more
Go to todayinamericatv.com to learn more about “Today in America with Terry Bradshaw” and see samples of the program, which is hosted by the former NFL star.
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