Video gambling

Before any further video gaming cafes are allowed to locate in Kankakee, some city leaders want to conduct a deeper look into the impact they have on the community. The stop wouldn't apply to gaming areas located inside another business, like the one shown here.

KANKAKEE — The proposed six-month moratorium on any additional Kankakee-based gaming cafes was slowed as Kankakee City Council members failed to approve the measure on both its first and second readings Monday.

The matter will likely come back before the council in two weeks for its final approval.

To be passed on its first and second reading in the same vote, a two-thirds vote would have been needed, meaning 10 votes. A second reading vote on the moratorium in two weeks would need only a simple majority, meaning eight votes.

The attempt to have it adopted on both readings failed by a 6-6-1 vote. On Sept. 23, the city’s Economic Development Committee, by a 4-1 vote, instructed the city’s legal department to draft an ordinance halting the siting of any additional video gaming cafes.

The ordinance was eyed to stop the OK of any additional gaming cafes for a period of six months so the city could take a deeper look at the developments and their impact.

Currently, the city has four video gaming cafes: Shelby’s, 4 Meadowview Center; Station Street Gaming Cafe, 150 E. Station St.; Lacey’s Place, 503 RiverStone Parkway; and the recently sited location at 1620 E. Maple St.

Second Ward Alderman David Baron has been leading the discussion of the appropriateness of gaming cafes in Kankakee. After Monday’s meeting, Baron said it is his opinion that these cafes produce a “net negative” impact on the city, meaning they are harmful to many residents’ finances.

He believes the more gaming cafes there are, the greater the negative impact on the city.

Not all council members agree, arguing that each of the city’s seven wards should be allowed to have a gaming cafe as they can spur economic development.

If ultimately approved, the moratorium would be in place for no more than six months. Mayor Chris Curtis said after Monday’s meeting he is not opposed to gaming cafes, but rather he believes everyone should clearly know what the city will allow.

State-sanctioned video gaming has become a big generator of tax revenue.

The city’s current budget projects the city gaining $540,000 for its share of video gaming proceeds. In 2020, the city collected $444,169 in gaming taxes. In 2020, gaming machines were turned off by the state government for four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, in Kankakee, there are a total of 223 video gaming machines in 41 locations.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.