by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board is working out the details of the video gaming ordinance that would allow video gambling machines in places that serve liquor within the village of Elburn. Trustee Ken Anderson said he is still opposed to it.
“I’ve been pretty clear about my opinion about this ordinance,” Anderson said. “I’m not in agreement with bringing these machines into our town.”
Anderson said he does not believe that allowing this type of activity in town is conducive to the kind of community he wants Elburn to continue to be—family
oriented and community-minded.
Anderson said he understands there is a bill being considered in Springfield, House Bill HB 1306, that would keep the public from knowing the amount of money local residents lose in each establishment providing gambling in their community. Currently, video gambling reports are published each month and posted on the Illinois Gaming Board’s website.
“What they’re proposing is that you would know the county total, and not each establishment,” he said. “Somebody wants to make it so you can’t see what’s going on.”
According to the General Assembly website, HF 1306 “amends the Freedom of Information Act and the Video Gaming Act. (It) prohibits the Illinois Gaming Board from disseminating information relating to video gaming that is specific to individual licensed locations, but allows the dissemination of information that is aggregated based on municipality or county.”
The bill was scheduled for a State Government Administration Committee Hearing on Wednesday afternoon.
When the Village Board considered video gambling in 2009, trustees implemented a ban on it in the village of Elburn, with a 4-2 vote. Trustees Anderson, Jeff Walter, Bill Grabarek and former trustee Patricia Romke voted for the ban. Trustee Jerry Schmidt and former trustee Gordon Dierschow voted against it.
Although Grabarek said he does not like the act of gambling itself, he does not want to “injure the businesses in town.” He said the amount of money there is to be made is greater than he had anticipated. Because Kane County allows the machines, the Blackberry Bar & Grill, located on Main Street Road and Route 47 in unincorporated Kane County south of Elburn, was able to install three machines last fall, and put another two in last week.
“Last night (Friday) was a big night for us,” Blackberry Bar & Grill bartender Bob Regan said at lunchtime on Saturday.
According to Regan, people begin coming in to play around 2 p.m. He said he wasn’t surprised that Elburn and other communities were currently considering allowing the machines in their establishments.
“Gotta keep a level playing field,” he said.
The bartender said some people from the Sugar Grove Legion had come in recently to check out the machines. When Regan found out that Sugar Grove was holding a referendum to ask the residents whether or not they wanted video gambling in town, he said he didn’t think it would pass.
“A lot of people don’t want their husbands or wives down here playing,” Regan said. “I know I wouldn’t.”
Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt and Knucklehead’s Tavern owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would put the machines in their bars.
Walter said that when he first voted for the ban, the state didn’t have its act together, the rules weren’t published, and there was too much of a gray area.
“It seems like it’s the right time,” Walter said. “I don’t want to penalize our businesses.”
The revenue gained from video gaming is split between the bar owner, the gaming terminal provider and the state, with the bar owner and the terminal provider each receiving 35 percent of the revenues. The state of Illinois receives 30 percent, and the municipality receives one-sixth of the state’s share, or 5 percent of the total revenues, from the state.
The board will vote on the video gaming ordinance on Monday, March 4. Trustee Jerry Schmidt will not be present.