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Aurora talks about benefits of video gambling revenues

Updated: September 23, 2012 6:23AM



AURORA — Allowing video gambling in Aurora tavern and clubs could mean an extra $550,000 in tax revenue to the city per year, City Finance Director Brian Caputo said Tuesday night.

Under the proposed ordinance, bars, restaurants, licensed truck stops, and fraternal and veterans organizations would be allowed to operate video game systems.

Caputo estimated if half of the businesses that have liquor licenses in Aurora install five video gambling systems each, the city can expect to receive about $550,000 per year in tax revenue.

“Gaming obviously already exists in Aurora, and this is basically constraining and activity that was not regulated fully previously and also provides some money for (state) capital projects,” Caputo said.

The city would also receive revenue through fees. According to the proposed ordinance, business owners would be required to pay the city a $100 annual fee for each video gaming terminal.

Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns, 7th Ward, asked for the ordinance to be placed on the council’s “unfinished” list, an indication there will likely be more discussion on the issue prior to a vote at City Council next week.

Businesses operating video gambling systems would first have to be licensed by the state. The state will allow a business to operate up to five video gambling machines.

Alderman John “Whitey” Peters, 5th Ward, asked if businesses that did not have a liquor license could operate the gambling machines.

“We’re not going to see them show up in church basements?” Peters asked.

City attorney Alayne Weingartz said the machines would be limited to establishments with liquor licenses in Aurora.

Jay Spoden, president of Sugar-Grove based Tiger Amusements, said about 30 percent of a machine’s revenue will go to the state. Of the state’s portion, 5 percent will go to the city.

Last week, Aurora’s Finance Committee moved the proposed ordinance forward without a recommendation.

Culture Stock Bookstore

The city aims to lease vacant building space at 43 E. Galena Blvd. to LIFT Aurora to open a non-profit used bookstore.

A few dozen people involved in the non-profit effort came to Committee of the Whole Tuesday night to cheer on their project.

Nicole Mullins, founder of LIFT (Live, Improve, Flourish, Thrive) Aurora, said Culture Stock is largely influenced by Chicago-based non-profit Open Books, and the group has studied their operation.

Mullins said Culture Stock will be one of the only places in Aurora where a person can go to relax and read a book, as large bookstores on the city’s outskirts have closed.

“We will bring life to a vacant downtown building and provide activity in a chic, cozy, clean, colorful and vibrant environment that is full of character,” Mullins said.

Gina Moga, city planning development coordinator, said the bookstore is in the process of receiving non-profit status from the state.

Alderman Rick Lawrence, 4th Ward, asked what the city would be responsible for paying for once the bookstore opened.

Moga said only the building space.

“They’re paying for all of the utilities, everything,” Moga said.



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