When legal video gambling became a reality for the bars and restaurants of the state, the village of North Riverside welcomed the potential for new revenue with open arms.
The village also jumped on the bandwagon in welcoming gaming parlors to the village — businesses that hold liquor licenses but whose principal income comes from players pumping dollars into the state-allowed maximum five gambling machines.
But now if you want to operate a gambling parlor in North Riverside, it’s going to cost you extra for your liquor license.
On Nov. 16, the village’s board of trustees voted 5-0 to create two new liquor license classifications to separate gaming parlors from bars and restaurants. And while the licenses for the gaming parlors are otherwise similar to the ones held by bars and restaurants, the annual cost is significantly higher.
It costs a tavern $3,654 annually for a Class A liquor license, which allows the sale of beer, wine and hard liquor. A Class I license, specifically for restaurants, costs $3,053 a year.
But if you’re the owner of a gaming parlor who wants a full liquor license — a Class G license — it’ll run you $6,000. Or gaming parlors can opt for a Class G1 license, which allows the sale or beer and wine only, for $5,000 annually.
While that might seem like a steep premium to pay for the privilege of running a gambling parlor, it’s actually not too bad, when compared to home rule municipalities, like Berwyn, which can impose hefty license fees for each gaming machine in town.
Because North Riverside is a non-home rule community, state law caps the per-machine licensing fee at $25. Home rule communities like Berwyn and Cicero are under no such restriction. As a result, Berwyn takes in $1,000 for each of the roughly 210 gaming machines located in the city.
That $210,000 in machine licensing fees is in addition to the $321,000 that Berwyn has collected through the end of October in gaming tax proceeds for 2015.
North Riverside’s annual take of gaming tax revenues through October is about $91,000. But the village has been able to collect just $775 through gaming machine license fees due to the fee limit the state has placed on non-home rule communities.
Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. said that hiking the liquor license fee was a way for North Riverside to level the playing field with respect to license fee revenue from gambling parlors.
In addition, Hermanek said, the people who patronize the gambling parlors aren’t going there to spend their money on drinks or food. As a result, the village can expect to collect less from its places of eating and drinking tax at those establishments.
“Those places get a different clientele,” Hermanek said. “They’re there for the purpose of gambling.”
Right now there are three gambling parlors in North Riverside. Betty’s is located in the North Riverside Park Plaza shopping center near the village’s eastern border while Spins is on Cermak Road near the western border.
A third parlor, Annie’s, opened recently at the North Riverside Park Mall. The gaming parlors’ liquor licenses allow them to be open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
The increased liquor license fee will also help account for increased police patrols near the gaming parlors, said Hermanek, which are located at the village borders and in areas where generally other businesses are not open as late.
“It creates more work for the police department,” Hermanek said. “There’s more patrolling.”
This article has been updated to reflect that Annie’s, a gaming parlor in the North Riversiee Park Mall, is now open.