Renner sides with businesses seeking to end Bloomington’s video gaming freeze

video gambling
Bloomington bar owners and video gaming terminal operators are lobbying the city to end its moratorium on video gaming licenses. (File photo from Flickr/roundnoon)

 

By Howard Packowitz

BLOLOMINGTON – Bloomington bar owners and gaming machine operators have Mayor Tari Renner on their side to end a moratorium on video gaming licenses.

John Canham of Prairie State Gaming believes roughly half the bars in town want a sixth gaming machine, and he noted Governor JB Pritzker is counting on extra gaming revenue to fund various projects.

“If Bloomington says no sixth machine, and every other municipality followed suit, there’s a $200 million shortfall for the governor’s budget this year. He’s not going to be happy about that,” said Canham.

He added that an extra machine does not amount to a major expansion of gambling.

“Anything that sixth machine will get utilized is probably on a Friday or Saturday night when the bars are packed,” said Canham.

“Most of the time, you go into a bar, there are two or three games being played, so it’s not like it’s a huge increase in gaming, and you should be worried about it.”

Canham spoke while joining some other gaming terminal operators and local bar owners at Renner’s most recent open house.

Mayor Renner said the ban is an obstacle to economic development and makes it harder to close some real estate deals.

“We should be tearing roadblocks down, not erecting roadblocks to jobs and investment in this community. If this were anything other than gambling, I don’t think we’d even be having this conversation,” Renner said.

“We are not, comparatively speaking, saturated compared to Decatur or compared to Champaign, and there are consequences,” the mayor added.

“Essentially what you’re doing is giving people a monopoly who already have the machines.”

City Council member Joni Painter has championed the moratorium. Painter, and her council colleagues Jenn Carrillo, and Donna Boelen are working on a set of options for council consideration.

Howard Packowitz can be reached at howard.packowitz@cumulus.com

Blogs

Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…