by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn village trustee Ken Anderson’s question to his fellow board members, “How does this (video gambling) improve the quality of life in Elburn?” went unanswered on Monday evening.
Instead, the board voted 5-1 to approve an ordinance allowing video gaming machines in Elburn establishments that serve liquor.
Village Board members Bill Grabarek and Jeff Walter had joined Anderson in 2009 in voting for a ban on video gaming. However, Walter, who said two business owners in town had recently approached him about revisiting the ban, brought video gaming before the board again last month.
“What concerns me is Blackberry Inn has allowed it,” Walter said at the time. “Are we going to lose customers? Are we going to lose tax dollars?”
Blackberry Bar & Grill, south of town in unincorporated Kane County, installed three video gaming machines last fall after Kane County reversed its ban on video gaming. Two more machines were delivered on Feb. 20 for a total of five altogether, the maximum allowed.
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, and the state receiving 30 percent. The municipality (or in the case of an unincorporated area, the county) receives one-sixth of the state’s take, or 5 percent of the total revenues.
Anderson had said he was concerned about the message that allowing the machines in town would send, as well as enabling people to gamble away money they could not afford to lose.
However, trustee Dave Gualdoni and Village President Dave Anderson said they didn’t feel they should dictate to others how to live their lives. In addition, Dave Anderson said that if people didn’t gamble in Elburn, the opportunity exists four miles down the road.
Grabarek said he had received phone calls and emails from residents asking him why he had decided to reverse his earlier stance on the machines, and stated that he didn’t want to hurt the businesses in town. He said he would like to see how it goes, and that the village could hold a referendum in a couple of years if the board members thought the issue needed to be looked at again.
Trustees Jerry Schmidt, Ethan Hastert, Walter, Grabarek and Gualdoni voted in favor of the video gaming ordinance.
Tavern owners who have a liquor license may apply for a video gaming license through the Illinois Gaming Board. Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt—trustee Schmidt’s son—and Knucklehead’s owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would apply for the license.
The Elburn Lions Club initially considered applying for a license, but ultimately decided not to pursue it.