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Geneseo the only city in Henry County to deny video gaming

GENESEO, Illinois -- The City of Geneseo struck down the second attempt at bringing video gaming to town during last night's city council meeting.

Third ward alderman, Martin Rothschild, said the possibility to bring video gaming machines to Geneseo was briefly mentioned. He said it never officially went up for a vote due to the unanimous lack of interest by board members.

"I think the social, moral, kind of how we brand ourselves as a community, is more important - to those at least in attendance at the meeting - than the ability to gain that revenue," said city administrator, Lisa Kotter.

Right now, Geneseo is the only city in Henry County to turn away video gaming.

"Every city is trying to figure out where do we get extra income. How do we bring it in," Rothschild said. "And video gaming -- when it first came out -- looked awfully attractive... If they were to revisit it now, I'm not so sure they would do it (again)."

Those against video gaming in Geneseo believe it would promote gambling addictions or make the town look tacky.

"A lot of the people who live in this town said that they feel that video gaming would bring down the flavor of our town," Rothschild said.

Still, the owner of Leamen's Bar and Grill, Chris Leamen, said the lack of machines is hitting hard on his business.

"Eerie, Hillsdale, Atkinson, Cambridge, Colona -- they all have the video gaming," Leamen said. "It hurts. I mean my revenue is down on my Friday's and Saturday's. The people out there they prefer to go out there... they're not spending their money here in Geneseo."

Kotter said by now allowing video gaming in Geneseo, the city is missing out on thousands of dollars worth of annual revenue.

"If we look at similar sized communities you could be looking at something between $100-175K in income," Kotter said.

A referendum to bring video gaming was also brought up back in 2015. Now, the city said it will find other ways to find revenue.

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