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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Village's $1000 Video-Gaming License Fee Upheld

Illinois allows establishments with liquor licenses to install video-gaming machines subject to state regulations and a state license. The Video Gaming Act expressly authorizes non home-rule municipalities to charge a fee for each video gaming terminal not to exceed $25.  There is nothing else in the Act about local registration or licensing, although many municipalities have enacted regulations to require a license or registration and impose a fee, including the Village of Elmwood Park.  

In 2013, the Village adopted an ordinance imposing a $1,000 license fee per video gaming terminal. The Village relied on its home rule authority to impose the fee.  A gaming company applied for and obtained state licenses to install video gaming terminals in a restaurant in Elmood Park.  However, the company did not pay the Village's license fee, nor did it obtain the required local licenses for the gaming machines.  Instead, the company requested that the Village waive the fee.  When that request was denied, the company sued the Village, claiming that the fee was unconstitutional and the Village was preempted from requiring a license or license fee.

Recently, a trial court issued an opinion upholding the Village's license fee.  First, the court rejected the company's argument that the Video Gaming Act preempted a home rule municipality's video gaming regulations, finding that Elmwood Park's regulations and license fee did not conflict with the state regulatory scheme. The court also determined that the license fee was not an unconstitutional tax, because the fee was reasonably related to the costs of regulating and enforcing the video gaming regulations.  As a result, the court dismissed the company's challenge to the Village's video gaming licensing fee and ordinance.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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