Last year the people of O’Fallon voted a YES to overturn a three-year ban on video games in the city but it was up to city council to approve and reinstate video game licensing to only businesses with a liquor license.
First of all, I commend City Hall. You have made great strides to improve this town in my lifetime and you should be proud of your achievements. But also for listening to the people of O’Fallon and honoring their wishes to bring back the games. Otherwise gamers take great measures to go to the boats, to Shiloh, and to every other municipality in St. Clair County to play the games.O’Fallon has had gambling for over a century. In every super market, c-store and gas station, bingo at churches, pull –tabs, and turkey shoots for generations…this is not a new phenomenon.
The games can tip the balance between small businesses like mine from staying open or closing the doors…paying rent, payroll or just taking just a little of the incredible pressure off our businesses that so desperately need any financial help they can get. My wife and I have a small business in downtown O’Fallon, we haven’t seen a paycheck in four years because we are trying to make it work. All the money goes to payroll, city taxes, insurance….We employ two full time positions and seven-ten part time. That in mind, I have to call City Hall out on the reissuing of these video game licenses prices to the small businesses who need them.
There are certain members of the city who has openly admitted they would raise the license fee so high, that no owner of any bar or restaurant would be able to afford them…but to their chagrin, they were wrong. Every location plus new ones have brought them back….even though the fee to the city for each game put in an establishment is 97.6 percent higher than Shiloh, Fairview, Belleville or Collinsville. In easy terms, a video game license per machine in Shiloh cost the owner of that small business about $24….here, in O’Fallon, it costs a ransom of $100, plus the application fees and more. Bringing it up to over $1,200. You know the story of Robin Hood steeling from the rich and giving to the poor. Well, this is the same but in reverse. O’Fallon’s small businesses are the victims and the proceeds are going to fund city pensions and something called a general fund. None of the enormous proceeds, from what I can tell, are going back to help promote the bars and restaurants that are being singled out.
Whether you agree or disagree on gaming in O’Fallon, the fact remains, the city is profiting from this exorbitant and unfair fee. If you want to stroll down the street to get a cup of coffee, a cupcake, a great pizza, listen to live music or go to a parade or special events, support the little guys who put their lively hood out there every day to be a part of the community. Tell City Hall we want an equal chance to make that happen...Or, go to one of those faceless chain restaurants on the outskirts of town or Fairview, Collinsville and Belleville. The message is simple; make it easier to operate small businesses. Be an ally, not an adversary…lets keep O’Fallon dollars in O’Fallon. Please City Hall, lower the cost of the video license for not only the small businesses but for a more vibrant downtown and municipality equality will make O’Fallon an unimpeded destination.
Mike Smith, O’Fallon