Social clubs and fraternal organizations won’t have to pay as much to host video gambling after the city of Woodstock lowered its fees.

Class “C” liquor license-holders, made up of clubs, will pay $100 a year to the city for each video gambling machine they run, down from $500. Clubs also will not have to pay an annual license fee of $1,000, which applies to other gambling establishments in Woodstock.

The fee changes were approved by the City Council April 18.

In March, the city raised its fees on video gambling, increasing the yearly cost from $25 to $500 per machine. The council also imposed an annual permit fee of $1,000 for operators that provide the machines to local businesses and an annual license fee of $1,000 for each establishment that offers video gambling.

Mayor Brian Sager wrote in a memo to the City Council that the city hadn’t intended for clubs to pay the much higher rates, calling it an “oversight.”

“Previous discussion had been to exempt clubs with Liquor License C classifications in recognition of their contributions to the members of those organizations and the larger community,” Sager wrote. “The original intent, though overlooked, was to forgo an annual license fee for such entities and charge an annual video gaming terminal fee of $100 for each video gaming terminal upon the premises.”

Only establishments with liquor licenses can host video gambling.

Woodstock’s Molly Oakford told the council she thinks gambling fees should be the same for every business and organization. When the city increased its fees, officials said the added revenue would go toward police and other public costs associated with gambling.

“The argument for decreasing the licensing fee and the terminal fee is not consistent, in my opinion, with the original argument of why these fees were established,” Oakford said. “… The gaming detriments are the same regardless of the establishment at which that activity occurs.”

Sager said social clubs don’t have the same problems as some other establishments when it comes to gambling.

“Frankly, there’s a different atmosphere between a number of those [bars and restaurants] and the club environment,” Sager said. “The demand for police response associated with video gaming at those club facilities is different than at other liquor consumption/video gaming businesses.”

Twenty-one establishments in Woodstock operate a total of 92 video gambling machines, according to city documents.

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