Lincoln / Logan County takes advantage of video game machines

Elsa, Annie, Debbie and Becky have something in common with Holly and Norma. All six are affiliated with Lincoln Video Games. The first four are salon names while the last two are real first names of business owners.

I can’t help but wonder why female names are popular to shine the spotlight on nicknames in the video game industry. Maybe Elsa, Annie, Debbie, and Becky just seem more trustworthy than Butch, Adolph, Fats, or Fast Freddie.

Whatever their name, the possibilities for video games in Lincoln are as plentiful as the bumps and dips in the city streets. I had written about them before when I expressed my astonishment at the amount of money flowing in and out of these digital adult toys. I’m always a little stunned when I look at the current numbers, based on data from Lincoln City Hall and the Illinois Gaming Board website.

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Twenty-seven Lincoln companies now house 162 video game devices that are legally sanctioned – and controlled – by the state. But that’s not a statewide thing. Villages and municipalities can vote to ban machines outright within their legally defined limits. Lincoln, of course, did not choose to go this route. But, a few months ago, the city council voted to stop issuing additional gaming licenses.

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There is no room for debate that this is a big money problem. Since legalized video games arrived in Lincoln in October 2012 – the first machines were installed in the now closed The Glass House tavern – the town of Lincoln has raked in $ 1,994,211.73 as a share of the tax on video games.

“The first four years were slow; however, the average over the past few months (ie the past five months) is about $ 37,000 per month, ”City Treasurer Chuck Conzo told me. Conzo proposed this footnote: “It was four and a half months in 2020 and a month and a half in early 2021 when the gaming system was shut down statewide due to COVID restrictions. “

And, he noted that the city also receives an annual licensing fee of $ 25 for each video game terminal in the city.

The state gaming council website gives a detailed account in monthly video game popularity reports. In Lincoln, two gas station / convenience store retailers are leading the pack in attracting gamers with cash in their pockets. Beck’s figures for last October show that $ 984,133.14 was pumped into its 10 Lincoln terminals. Of that amount, $ 912,532.49 was paid in earnings, leaving the owner of the business, the State of Illinois and the City of Lincoln to share the remainder. From this company alone, the state received $ 6,380.16 and the city $ 1,100.03.

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At Thornton’s in October, gaming devices swallowed up $ 843,540.76 in bets and disbursed $ 760,781.63 in winnings.

In October, all of the city’s terminals, all 162, cashed in $ 8,546,035.09 in bets and paid out $ 7,802,270.73 in winnings. The state’s share of revenue was $ 215,693.97 and the city added $ 37,188.61 to its coffers.

Logan County itself allows four settlements in unincorporated areas of the county. These four companies saw $ 877,326.77 fall into their machines in October.

The amount of tax revenue that legal gambling can generate has simply been too great a temptation for lawmakers at all levels to resist across the country. Despite screams from all corners that gambling is immoral, sinful, and an easy way to steal money from the poor that they can hardly afford to lose, the opportunities for gambling expansion appear to stretch to almost each session of the state legislatures. Today, sports betting seems to be the latest wave to take the leap into legal territory.

I can’t honestly say I’m opposed to legal gambling, but I am concerned about people who cannot afford to lose money by betting what little they have in the hope of hitting a jackpot in gold to end their miseries. This rarely happens.

The odds will always be in favor of the video game machine. In all the video game data available statewide, I couldn’t find any companies that lost money on devices. Perhaps this is why these machines have become common devices in Lincoln and elsewhere.

Dan Tackett is a retired editor of The Courier. He can be reached at [email protected]

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