The Carbondale City Council took another stand against video gaming this week by limiting the number of terminals in the city, but it is hard to deny the amount of revenue that is being poured into the state and local communities because of it.

According to the Illinois Gaming Machine Operators Association, and reports from the Illinois Gaming Board, video gaming has generated about $785 million in state and local tax revenues since the first machines went live in September 2012.

In the beginning, there were only 13 establishments throughout the state with about 60 machines, and now there are more than 24,000 machines and more than 5,600 restaurants, bars, fraternal clubs and other businesses with liquor licenses.

The association says the state brings in more than $22 million a month in taxes from gaming that is meant to support capital infrastructure projects.

“Our goal from the beginning with video gaming has been to make an economic difference: for our partners who draw players to their establishments, for their employees and patrons, and for our state and local governments who need tax revenue to support their services and programs,” Michael Gelatka, the association’s president said. “These numbers confirm video gaming is making that difference, and we look forward to working with policymakers in Springfield and in our communities to build on this good progress.”

A study by the operator’s association found video gaming tax revenue could grow to about $500 million a year if the about 150 municipalities that don’t allow video gaming jump in the game. The association said that number doesn’t include the city of Chicago, which doesn’t allow video gaming. It says, with the largest city in Illinois, the numbers could reach $700 million a year.

“Video gaming isn’t the right fit for every Illinois community, but we’re seeing many communities reap the benefits of adding this form of entertainment and rethink their initial concerns,” Gelatka said. “We think there are a number of smart ways for legislators and these local communities to work with us to provide more jobs and economic opportunity. We look forward to making our case with them, using these strong numbers to show we can produce the results we all want.”

The Carbondale City Council voted Tuesday to limit the amount of video game machines to 100. There are currently 17 locations with 74 terminals licensed gaming terminals with four other locations with pending applications with the Illinois Gaming board.

Working under the assumption that the four new locations are licensed for the maximum of 5 machines, the total number of gaming terminals will be 94, said Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams.

In the past year, Carbondale has generated $146,735 in revenue from video gaming, according to numbers from the Illinois Gaming Board. Since 2012, when the machines went live, the city has generated $299,346.

Although Carbondale has the highest population and a major university inside of it, Marion and Mount Vernon are still out-performing the home of Southern Illinois University when it comes to revenue generated from video gaming.

In past year, Marion has brought in $203,024 from gaming, and $418,877 since September 2012. Part of that success could be attributed to Marion’s location of Interstate 57 and the Pilot Travel Center which is open 24 hours with gaming inside.

According to gaming reports, about 35 percent of money played in terminals was at the Pilot in Marion.

Even with Marion’s impressive numbers from video gaming, the leader in the region for generating the most money from video gaming is Mount Vernon.

Mount Vernon generated $259,024 this past year, and $686,066 since the machines went live. Mayor Mary Jane Chesley also pointed to the four truck stops off the interstate — which can operate the machines 24 hours a day — as a reason for the big numbers coming into her city.

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Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

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