by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Dec. 18 held a discussion regarding the implementation of video gaming in various locations throughout the community.
Jay Spoden, owner of Tiger Amusements, began the meeting with elaborating on the profitability and the negligible amount of problems when the gaming machines were used in other surrounding communities such as North Aurora.
“We have not heard any complaints of people hanging around or about the maintenance of these machines,” Spoden said.
In reference to a total gathered from a few surrounding locations, Spoden stated that approximately $12 million was gambled last month—$1 million went to the state, and $200,000 went to select municipalities.
A few members of the American Legion showed up to express their concern that the legion is doing poorly financially. Many members compared their financial situation as “on their last leg,” and stated that they may not be there anymore. American Legion members support the gaming machines because of the vast amount of profits that these machines have brought in the past, and feel that it will help sustain the American Legion.
Ladies’ Auxiliary representative Lynn Marchi echoed that sentiment.
“If this does not happen, then we will not be able to do our annual car show or send cards to the troops,” she said, mentioning the two events that provide good services for the community and a good sources of revenue, as well.
Members of surrounding towns attended the meeting to express opposition to the use of gaming machines. John Zahn of Batavia made the point that the bars could “potentially lose money because those that would be inclined to put their money into the machines would otherwise be inclined to spend the money on drinks and food.”
Some board trustees had abstained their vote in order for the citizens of the community to be able to have a vote on it in April’s referendum. The trustees that abstained—Rick Montalto, Kevin Geary, Tom Renk and David Paluch—pressed the need for the people’s say in the situation, and the use of democracy. Other trustees, including Bob Bohler, were frustated by the abstentions.
“These gaming machines have existed in the Legion for decades, and now it’s only an issue because it’s become a political issue,” he said.
Montalto offered a compromise that would allow Legion members temporary use of the machines until the board holds a referendum on the issue in April. If the community supports the use of the machines, they will maintain their license. If not, then the Legion and other businesses would have some time to remove the machines from their locations.