Coalition asks lawmakers to 'Bet on Main Street'
A coalition of Illinois small businesses recently spoke out against the hardships a proposed video-gaming tax hike would cause them, organizing a press conference under the heading Bet on Main Street.
Michael Bond, the CEO of Tap Room Gaming LLC in Northbrook, said the Support Main Street Illinois coalition supports small businesses and not corporate Wall Street or big casinos.
"Video-gaming growth is a catalyst in the state," Bond said. "It has created jobs without tax incentives from Illinois or taxpayers."
Gary Stork said that since VFW 2698 in Sparta began offering video gaming, it went from surviving to thriving.
"The extra funds have allowed us to grow our mission and allowed a significant increase in support for the Sparta community," Stork said. "Thanks to video-gaming revenues, we sponsor the Sparta Drug Awareness Program at a local school, we send a local scout troop to summer camp, we help provide equipment for the Sparta Police Department and we contribute to the Sparta volunteer firefighters."
Barry Gregory, the owner of Crehan’s Irish Pub in Belleville said the extra money from having video gaming in the bar has been such an improvement that he was able to give his employees a raise and improve the business.
"Last year we were even able to remodel the exterior of the building," Gregory said. "We are able to be more active in the community. Video gaming allows us to invest in our employees and our community. We are able to sponsor softball teams, a marathon, a 5K run and other events."
Gregory asked lawmakers to think about the impact the tax increase would have on their communities.
"Bet on Main Street," Gregory said. "Bet on mom and pop organizations. Keep us in mind. That tax increase affects us and our employees and customers and local communities."
Currently, there are several bills pending in the General Assembly that would legalize sports betting in Illinois and make changes to the state's current video-gaming laws.