ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Video gaming machines are a common site around the Stateline. There’s hundreds of terminals in Winnebago County at bars, restaurants and standalone video gaming parlors.
A new business coming soon to Rockford will combine all three. However, not everyone sees this new evolution of video gaming as a winning hand for the Stateline.
“Stella’s is a neighborhood gathering place.”
A gathering place is what owner Charity Jones is calling a premium gaming café and Stella’s may soon find a place in Rockford inside the former Quiznos location off Perryville road. The concept of food, drinks and video gambling isn’t new to the Stateline and is one that’s drawn both praise and criticism.
Jay Gesner opened up his first gaming parlor, Miss Jill’s, along State Street four months ago, a business expansion mad possible in part because of video gaming revenues.
“We’re investing what we’re making. We’ve done some work around the house, we’ve hired people to put in driveways and sidewalks. It’s local people reinvesting in our community.”
The state of Illinois has also been able to reinvest. Gaming revenues have paid for road improvement and other infrastructure projects, though Senator Dave Syverson says these types of cafes weren’t what he and other lawmakers had imagined when the bill was originally signed.
“This is really more of a social thing for social clubs that have been operating for 100 years to help generate a little bit of revenue to help keep their mission going. I just hope it doesn’t get too expanded and takes away from what the social clubs are doing,” Syverson said.
Another potential drawback is the casual atmosphere of the cafes may get more people unexpectedly hooked on gambling.
“They may never have walked into a casino or a boat before and now it is just a matter of walking across the room, they may not recognize them, it may be something more dangerous.”
We spoke to the owners of the company that plans to open Stella’s. She calls it a café for adults who don’t want to go to a bar, but still want to grab a drink and meet friends.
The Rockford City Council still needs to sign off on the liquor license for Stella’s. Then the business can apply for a video gaming permit from the state. That process can take 6-9 months.