A resolution to bring a US casino to Springfield, IL, appears to be on hold. City Council members fear a commercial Springfield casino in the state capital could be detrimental to bars and restaurants that rely on video gaming terminals (VGT).
The Central Illinois Licensed Beverage Association (CILBA) unanimously voted to oppose the casino ordinance. The association also opposes any further resolutions requesting consideration for a casino license in Springfield. Furthermore, the group believes no casino should come to the state capital or the surrounding area.
Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder wants a casino that markets sports betting and table games instead of slot machines or poker. However, Alderwoman Erin Conley said a downtown casino could harm the city’s image as a family-friendly tourist destination.
For now, the resolution remains held in committee.
VGTs around the state
According to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, Springfield has 757 VGTs that generated almost $50 million during the fiscal year. The city is considering whether to push for a casino that could rival Rivers Casino in Des Plaines for the top spot in Illinois in terms of revenue.
The city with the second most VGTs is Rockford (537) near the Wisconsin border.
Ryan Bandy, President of the CILBA, said the group is “always willing to have a discussion.” Brady is also the owner of Win, Lose, or Draught, a local bar in Springfield outfitted with VGTs.
“My bar wouldn’t be there without the gaming. I’ve been able to expand (the bar) and pay my people well and offer employees health insurance,” Brady said.
Discussions still ongoing
Ward 10 Alderman Ralph Hanauer voiced similar concerns about the harm to local businesses.
“We bring in a casino. It’s going to be from outside. It’s going to be a big company,” Hanauer said. “Let’s say we do get it. How much does the city get out of it, and what does it do to these guys?
Langfelder said he would continue to push the issue.
“We’re asking the state legislature to grant the city of Springfield a casino license. We’ll come up with more defined language (after the meeting) and hopefully we’ll get to a point where everyone is satisfied and move forward. The bottom line is if we don’t do it, somebody else will, meaning someone outside the city.”