PEORIA (WEEK) – Potential fees could hurt Peoria and business owners who have video gaming machines. It comes after the state amended a law, which makes splits those fees equally between the business and gaming company. At this point, no one claims to be winning.
“It was a big surprise,” said owner of Neon Bison, John Hopkins.
For his six gaming machines, Hopkins currently pays the city $1,500 annually. Plus, the company that owns the machines pays the city $7,500 annually.
Currently in Peoria, businesses and machine owners split an annual $500 fee per machine. On top of that, machine owners pay an additional annual fee of $1,000 per machine.
“I know that was initially meant for the gaming companies, and their pockets are a lot deeper than us just a one place establishment,” said Hopkins.
But, now a new state law says gaming companies and businesses must split all fees imposed by local governments. Meaning, local businesses and gaming companies would meet in the middle. It would raise business owner’s annual fee from $250 to $750 per machine.
“That’s really where we’re able to get some of the revenue that this gaming produces,” said 3rd District Councilman Tim Riggenbach.
That’s what Riggenbach is concerned about – charging local businesses more money when the fees were intended for the gaming companies.
“We’re reacting to the consequences of a new state law,” said Riggenbach.
Tuesday night, the city proposed to cut the annual split fee in half, but that means the city would lose $250,000 annually.
“It looks like it’s pretty much a lose-lose for the city,” said Riggenbach.
Now Riggenbach and Hopkins hope for new ideas to get around these fees.
“I have a feeling that this is something that is not something that’s going to be settled in two weeks, it’s going to need more thought,” said Riggenbach.
“It’s not that we would get rid of the gaming or shut down business if we had to eat it, but it is a big cost,” said Hopkins.
Peoria City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposal at their next meeting.
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