Several Lemont business owners said they could install video gambling machines as early as next month after receiving the go-ahead from the village board and state gaming officials.
Lemont trustees voted 5-0 Monday night to adopt an ordinance that allows limited use of video gaming at certain establishments throughout the village. Trustee Debby Blatzer was absent.
The ordinance amends the Lemont Municipal Code to mirror language in the state's Video Gaming Act, which states that video gambling machines are only allowed at licensed truck stops, fraternal establishments or businesses with liquor licenses.
The ordinance also stipulates various fees and requirements, and states that any establishment in violation of the Video Gaming Act could lose both their gambling and liquor licenses.
If players win on any of the machines, they will receive a printed card that can be redeemed for cash at a special ATM inside the establishment.
During the village's June 25 board meeting, the mayor and all six village trustees said they would support video gambling in Lemont, so long as the regulations are in place and enforced by the Illinois Gaming Board.
"We shouldn't be involved in anyone's business decisions," Trustee Paul Chialdikas said.
"Less government is more," Trustee Jeanette Virgilio added.
Reaves echoed the trustees' statements.
"I don't want to be in anyone's business. If you want to video gamble and have a beer, it's not my business. It's your business," he said.
As of July 2, five Lemont establishments have applications pending for video gaming licenses, according to the Illinois Gaming Board: Bottles, Front Street Cantina, Stonehouse Pub, Tom's Place and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5819.
Reaves said the village has received numerous inquiries from other businesses in the past few weeks.
The state has strict rules in place for businesses to qualify for the license. The establishment must have an area where only patrons 21 and older are allowed, and the games must be in plain view of the bartender.
No licensed institution can have more than five video gambling machines.
Stonehouse Pub owner Norb Siwek said he hopes the machines will bring much-needed foot traffic to downtown Lemont.
"There are a lot of people out there who like to play video poker, so we think having the machines will generate extra business not only for us, but other bars and restaurants in Lemont," he said.
Tom's Place owner Mark Laketa said the machines would be "a win-win for everyone."
"We're now one of the only communities that allows video gambling, so it's a draw for people who don't necessarily want to go to the casinos," Laketa said. "The goal is to get those people into downtown Lemont, generate some extra business and hopefully get some extra revenue for the village in the process."
Both Laketa and Siwek said they are working with the Illinois Gaming Board, and could install machines by the end of next month, depending on the licensing process.
According to village attorney Jeff Stein, Lemont stands to generate a moderate amount of revenue from the video gaming terminals. Communities that allow video gaming can charge an annual fee of $25 per machine.
The state takes 30 percent of each terminal's income, but one-sixth of the revenue goes directly back to the municipality, Stein said.
Lemont, along with other Illinois communities, is able to move ahead with video gaming after the Illinois Gaming Board adopted rules for the operation and regulation of terminals under the Video Gaming Act of 2009. All municipalities have the option of prohibiting video gambling by either passing an ordinance or holding a referendum.
About 300 Illinois municipalities have opted out of the Video Gaming Act, including the nearby communities of Homer Glen, Lockport, Bolingbrook, Woodridge, Orland Park and Palos Heights.
Do you think video gaming has a place in Lemont? Tell us in the comments.
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