Video gambling supporters are pushing back against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to nearly double the state’s tax on the betting terminals.
Barry Gregory owns Crehan’s Irish Pub and Banquet Facility in Belleville. Installing video gaming terminals in his business allowed him to make a number of investments that he wouldn’t have been able to otherwise do after the state’s smoking ban curtailed business.
“The very next day we gave our staff a pay raise, we’ve completely redone the outside of our building,” he said. “It’s been very helpful.”
He’s among the business owners who signed on in support of Bet on Main Street, a coalition opposed to the governor’s proposed tax hike on gambling operators that supply bars, VFWs and other establishments with terminals.
“Locally-owned small businesses and the communities where they operate have greatly benefited from video gaming,” said Elica Meyer of Stats Sports Bar in Willowbrook.
The coalition, which includes gambling operation companies Accel Entertainment and J&J Ventures, has created a significant online footprint in opposition to the proposed tax increase.
Pritzker’s budget would raise the tax rate from 30 percent to 50 percent on gambling revenue above $2.5 million. While one small business that operates a few terminals wouldn’t make that much, the companies that work with people like Gregory would apply, thus cutting into his earnings.
The state’s more than 30,000 terminals are already shouldering a 30 percent tax rate that’s split between the state and the local municipality. That’s a higher percentage than casinos and horse tracks.
The tax on video gambling terminals has generated $306.2 million, $360.6 million and $421.9 million, respectively, in the past three fiscal years for the state and local jurisdictions, according to a news release.