BELVIDERE (WIFR) – The City of Belvidere says they had no idea which businesses were running video gaming machines until after they received money from the State. A communication breakdown now has business owners facing fees if they want to keep their video gaming machines.
Mayor Mike Chamberlain says some businesses were running machines without permits but have since gotten rid of the machines or are in the process of getting their permits, but at a cost many business owners say they didn’t expect.
Mayor Chamberlain says his city first learned who was running machines in November. Since then, his office has notified some business owners that they hadn’t applied for all the permits required to have the machines. Local restaurant owner Francisco Figueroa says what’s even more frustrating is he was never told about the special use permit when he applied for his gaming license ad the $700 fee came as an unpleasant surprise.
“I think that they are supposed to all the requirements before they give you the license in the beginning is what I feel like they're the city, they're supposed to know all kind of stuff that we needed before they give me license, not after the license,” said Figueroa.
“I don’t really think it’s a blame game, it’s just in the process in the whole gaming thing that’s come to be everybody had to kinda figure out the parameters and the rules for it,” said Mayor Chamberlain.
Figueroa says he couldn’t afford the fees for the new permit so he pulled his machines out. Mayor Chamberlain says business owners who purchase permits for gaming machines can run them through the special use permit process, but anyone new who wants video gaming will need both the $100 per machine and the $700 special use permits before machines can be installed and run.
Video gaming is growing in Belvidere. The city’s first revenue check totaled just over $60. The January total was just over $3,500.