In an effort to curb the growing influence of gambling “broom closets,” State Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Dunlap) is offering legislation to slow the spread of video gaming in stand-alone establishments.
“When legislators negotiated the 2009 gaming legislation, there was not an intention of converting average businesses into mini-casinos. We have bakeries, gas stations, liquor stores, laundry mats and various other businesses that are getting in on the gaming action,” LaHood said. “This legislation is not looking to stifle business or harm recreational gambling, but it is intended to rein in the proliferation of gaming broom closets.”
LaHood’s proposal is coming on the heels of a massive proliferation of sole-source gambling parlors that are popping up across the state. Many of these stand-alone businesses are located in economically-depressed neighborhoods where gaming addiction rates can be significantly higher.
The proliferation of the gaming “broom closets,” has been highlighted by media outlets and in July 2014, Peoria-area columnist Phil Luciano wrote about local governments’ concerns about these businesses harming regular businesses.
The expansion of gaming terminals at non-casino and racetrack establishments was part of the 2009 capital and road construction plan, which is now at the end of its term. Originally intended for social organizations like the Elks, Knights of Columbus, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Legions and bars, the gaming expansion was seen as a means to help their bottom lines and pump monies into local government coffers.
Senate Bill 1794, as introduced, would require that establishments generate 80 percent of their revenue from sales of food or beverage. The legislation also sets strict guidelines for the marketing of the gaming machines in the establishment and prevents them from being in the view of minors, when at a restaurant or store.
SB 1794 currently awaits a committee assignment.