Bars and restaurants that offer video gambling in Brookfield will soon pay 10 times more per machine to license them locally.

Village trustees are poised to approve increasing the per-machine fee from $25 to $250 at their meeting on Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chamber of the village hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave. The increase will become effective immediately upon passage.

“I think $250 per terminal per year is a drop in the bucket,” said Trustee Jennifer Hendricks during a discussion of the subject at the village board’s committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 24.

Hendricks was referencing the income bar and restaurant owners derive from having the machines in their establishments. Just for the month of December 2021, the average income for the 14 businesses in Brookfield with video gambling machines was nearly $10,000.

That figure represents all taxes having been paid to the state and municipality, and the remaining net income having been split 50-50 between establishment owners and video gambling machine vendors. 

In December 2021 alone, the pre-tax net income from all 79 video gambling machines in Brookfield was almost $425,000.

The ability for non-home rule communities like Brookfield to increase the gambling machine license fee to $250 came via state legislation signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in December.

While home rule communities – municipalities with populations of 25,000 or greater or smaller towns whose voters have approved a home rule referendum – always had leeway to charge higher fees for local video gambling machine licenses, the Illinois General Assembly had set the per-machine fee for non-home rule communities at $25 when the law passed a decade ago.

The city of Harvey, a home rule municipality in the south suburbs, charges a per-machine license fee of $1,000, while Countryside charges $750, according to Brookfield Finance Director Doug Cooper. Tinley Park, meanwhile, charges $1,350 per machine, a figure split by the establishment owner and machine vendor.

“I know this might be a concern of some of the board members, if not all of you, that we might be charging another fee on top some other fee we have for those businesses, but I think it’s affordable for them,” Cooper said.

No trustees voiced any concern on Jan. 24 that the fee increase would be onerous for establishment.

The village stands to collect an additional $17,550 in revenue annually by increasing the gambling machine license fee from $25 to $250.

Trustee Katie Kaluzny said she supported the increase but wondered whether the new revenue realized from it could be directed toward initiatives that could improve quality of life in Brookfield. Kaluzny is the village board’s liaison to the Brookfield Beautification Commission and Brookfield Conservation Commission.

 “It doesn’t seem like [the fee increase] brings that much more money to the village, but I was wondering, with that amount, could it be doing something to better the community like beautification or parks equipment or a park scholarship fund?” Kaluzny asked.

Both Hendricks and Trustee Brian Conroy said they supported Kaluzny’s idea about the new revenue going toward specific initiatives.

“We can always segregate that money,” said Cooper. “That’s not going to be a problem.”

Meanwhile, video gambling made a strong comeback in Brookfield last year after a hit-or-miss 2020 when the machines were offline due to shutdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Net income from Brookfield video gambling machines in 2021 was a record $4.65 million, and about $1.5 million more than in 2019, the last full pre-pandemic year. The one big difference is that prior to the pandemic, establishments were limited to five machines. They are now allowed a maximum of six.

Two establishments in Brookfield where video gambling income rose dramatically in 2021 compared to 2019 were Ryan’s Public House and Tony’s Family Restaurant.

In 2021, Ryan’s was the village’s top establishment for video gambling income, taking in $227,174 compared to $135,961 in 2019. Tony’s was not far behind in 2021 at $204,145, a huge jump from the restaurant’s 2019 video gambling income of $72,447. 

Cordial Inn, which was the village’s unrivaled top video gambling income earner from 2013-19, ranked third in video gambling income in 2021, at $184,337. Slager’s on 47th was fourth in 2021 at $158,981 and Phil’s Sports Bar & Grill was fifth at $158,947.

The village of Brookfield’s cut of video gambling taxes – just 5 percent of the total net income – was $232,737 in 2021. The state of Illinois, which takes 29 percent in taxes, reaped a little more than $717 million from video gambling income in 2021, according to information from the Illinois Gaming Board.

Total net income in 2021 from video gambling machines in Illinois amounted to nearly $2.5 billion.