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Big Al Says strip club tax could wipe out Club Businesses

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PEORIA — from www.pjstar.com – Big Al’s owner Al Zuccarini makes what he believes is a strong argument against proposed $5-a-customer strip club tax legislation not with his emotions, but with his calculator.

“Take a small club with maybe 100 customers a day. That’s $500 a day in taxes, $3,500 a week or $182,000 a year,” Zuccarini said Friday. “Clubs don’t make that. There’s no way they could absorb that kind of cost. It would wipe out the business.”

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, proposed legislation last week that would create a pool of money, the Sexual Assault Prevention Fund, gleaned from owners of strip clubs at a rate of $5 for every customer through the door. The money would be given out as grants to organizations that assist victims of sexual assault and for the prevention of sexual assault.

The bill, one of thousands introduced each year in the Legislature, has received a lot of media attention this week but has no co-sponsor and was only Friday assigned to a committee for study. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon announced her support of the bill on Friday.

“As a former domestic battery prosecutor, I see a connection between the alcohol-fueled exploitation of women and violence against women,” Simon said Friday in prepared remarks. “It is only fair to require the people who profit from the adult entertainment industry to finance those who provide advocacy and counseling services to the victims of sexual assault.”

Zuccarini said the bill unfairly targets strip clubs, a business that is hardly the lone provider of adult entertainment.

“What about adult bookstores, the porn industry and those places with the rooms you can go into where no one can see what you’re doing,” Zuccarini said. “At least at (Big Al’s) we keep an eye on everybody. What about gambling? That ruins a lot more lives than a strip club ever could. And we want to add four more (gambling) boats (in Illinois)?”

Increase the scope and the number of businesses paying into the pool, and you could reduce the amount each individual business would be committed to pay to a fairer level, he said.

Zuccarini – no other owners of area strip clubs could be reached for comment – also argues that the legislation wasn’t well thought out. He said there are only 70 or so licensed strip clubs in the state and believed that many of them wouldn’t survive a $5 per customer tax. If clubs close, they don’t pay the tax.

Big Al’s owner Al Zuccarini makes what he believes is a strong argument against proposed $5-a-customer strip club tax legislation not with his emotions, but with his calculator.

“Take a small club with maybe 100 customers a day. That’s $500 a day in taxes, $3,500 a week or $182,000 a year,” Zuccarini said Friday. “Clubs don’t make that. There’s no way they could absorb that kind of cost. It would wipe out the business.”

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, proposed legislation last week that would create a pool of money, the Sexual Assault Prevention Fund, gleaned from owners of strip clubs at a rate of $5 for every customer through the door. The money would be given out as grants to organizations that assist victims of sexual assault and for the prevention of sexual assault.

The bill, one of thousands introduced each year in the Legislature, has received a lot of media attention this week but has no co-sponsor and was only Friday assigned to a committee for study. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon announced her support of the bill on Friday.

“As a former domestic battery prosecutor, I see a connection between the alcohol-fueled exploitation of women and violence against women,” Simon said Friday in prepared remarks. “It is only fair to require the people who profit from the adult entertainment industry to finance those who provide advocacy and counseling services to the victims of sexual assault.”

Zuccarini said the bill unfairly targets strip clubs, a business that is hardly the lone provider of adult entertainment.

“What about adult bookstores, the porn industry and those places with the rooms you can go into where no one can see what you’re doing,” Zuccarini said. “At least at (Big Al’s) we keep an eye on everybody. What about gambling? That ruins a lot more lives than a strip club ever could. And we want to add four more (gambling) boats (in Illinois)?”

Increase the scope and the number of businesses paying into the pool, and you could reduce the amount each individual business would be committed to pay to a fairer level, he said.

Zuccarini – no other owners of area strip clubs could be reached for comment – also argues that the legislation wasn’t well thought out. He said there are only 70 or so licensed strip clubs in the state and believed that many of them wouldn’t survive a $5 per customer tax. If clubs close, they don’t pay the tax.

“For me to pay $250,000 to the state every year wouldn’t be worth it,” said Zuccarini, who believes the underlying aim of the legislation is to shut down the industry. “I wouldn’t pay it. I’d fold up.”

And when clubs close, people lose work.

“If a club pays a hundred dancers and there are 70 clubs in the state, that’s 7,000 people out of work. And where do they go? To unemployment. These are people who are not trained, not college educated. What jobs are they going to go to?”

Zuccarini said Big Al’s contributes to charities and helps sponsor a Pennsylvania Avenue lobbying group called COAST, Club Owners Against Sex Trafficking.

“We’ve never turned a blind eye to those issues. We’re aware,” he said. “We do a lot of good things in the community. We follow all the rules and we have no violations. I understand that there are those who do not approve of our business. But, God bless America, anyone is free to stay away from us if they want to.”

“For me to pay $250,000 to the state every year wouldn’t be worth it,” said Zuccarini, who believes the underlying aim of the legislation is to shut down the industry. “I wouldn’t pay it. I’d fold up.”

And when clubs close, people lose work.

“If a club pays a hundred dancers and there are 70 clubs in the state, that’s 7,000 people out of work. And where do they go? To unemployment. These are people who are not trained, not college educated. What jobs are they going to go to?”

Zuccarini said Big Al’s contributes to charities and helps sponsor a Pennsylvania Avenue lobbying group called COAST, Club Owners Against Sex Trafficking.

“We’ve never turned a blind eye to those issues. We’re aware,” he said. “We do a lot of good things in the community. We follow all the rules and we have no violations. I understand that there are those who do not approve of our business. But, God bless America, anyone is free to stay away from us if they want to.”

“For me to pay $250,000 to the state every year wouldn’t be worth it,” said Zuccarini, who believes the underlying aim of the legislation is to shut down the industry. “I wouldn’t pay it. I’d fold up.”

And when clubs close, people lose work.

“If a club pays a hundred dancers and there are 70 clubs in the state, that’s 7,000 people out of work. And where do they go? To unemployment. These are people who are not trained, not college educated. What jobs are they going to go to?”

Zuccarini said Big Al’s contributes to charities and helps sponsor a Pennsylvania Avenue lobbying group called COAST, Club Owners Against Sex Trafficking.

“We’ve never turned a blind eye to those issues. We’re aware,” he said. “We do a lot of good things in the community. We follow all the rules and we have no violations. I understand that there are those who do not approve of our business. But, God bless America, anyone is free to stay away from us if they want to.”

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