An Oregon bar and restaurant made history late last week when it "went live" with five video gaming machines.
"We're the first ones in Ogle County," said Mike Arians, owner of the Roadhouse at the south edge of town.
The devices were installed on Oct. 26 and have already made a hit with his customers, Arians said.
"They've been very popular," he said. "Saturday night was very busy with them. We had lots of new faces and several old ones renewed."
Video gaming machines were approved by the Oregon City Council on June 12.
Arians said he started working on getting the machines as soon as they were approved.
That involved background checks by both state and federal officials, a detailed process.
"We had to jump through a lot of hoops," Arians said.
He said the video gaming machines are very similar to the devices at river boat casinos.
Customers put money in to play and the machine automatically keeps track of their winnings.
When the player decides to quit or "cash out," the gaming machine prints a bar-coded ticket that the player then inserts into a nearby cash redemption machine to obtain the money he or she has won.
The cash redemption machine is also has ATM and bill changer capabilities.
The winnings are limited by state statute.
"You can win a limit of $500 per 'pull'," Arians said.
He said playing the machines is not a lot different than playing the state lottery.
"You can bet as little as a penny if you want," he said. "Just look at it as recreational."
The proceeds from the machines are split between the bar owner, the company that provides the machines, the state, and the city.
The money is collected by the state which then distributes it.
"The city gets 5 percent, the state gets 25 percent, the machine provider and establishment each get 35 percent," Arians said.
Finance Commissioner Ken Williams estimated in June that the devices will add $27,000 annually to city coffers.
At that time, Williams said eight facilities in Oregon were eligible to have the gaming machines.
Oregon Police Chief Darin DeHaan said Tuesday that so far, Breakers is the only other business that has indicated an interest.
The ordinance approved by the city complies with the Illinois Video Gaming Act enacted in 2009 that legalizes the use of video gaming terminals in certain establishments that hold liquor licenses, including bars, truck stops, fraternal establishments, and veterans establishments.
According to the state statute, a maximum of five terminals is allowed per establishment.
The gambling machines are connected to the Internet to allow the state to monitor money taken in and any payouts awarded.
Bar owners will not be involved in the operation of the gaming or cash redemption machines.