Village Board Approves Video Gaming Ordinance

Business owners say they hope video gambling will bring more people into downtown Lemont.

Several 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: , , , and .

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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Bob July 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Way to go board members. Good for downtown and good for Tom's Place, VFW etc.
angie July 10, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Angie A very foolish decision. Why would all the other surrounding towns vote NO, and you're considering puttting it in place. Why would you put it in the 'neighborhoods'. If it was a free standing gaming place = o.k. = in a certain designated district. It's a mistake. \
Catherine Stukel July 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM
This is the best town! Good bars, legalized gambling and a Goodwill. OOOO, throw in a ton of churches and some great burgers - and we are soooooooo neat! :) (sarcasm, folks- no harm intended).
Sandy Remijas July 10, 2012 at 01:34 PM
It is very disappointing that our trusted Village Trustees voted "YES" to gambling in Lemont. The Village of Faith has betrayed its residents - a breach of trust.
Steve Larek July 10, 2012 at 01:40 PM
This seems to be a rather desperate concession. Five poker machines in a couple of bars is not the catalyst to create a good business climate, nor will it create that elusive "much needed foot traffic" downtown. The machines will create some additional income for the bars, and it will come from the pockets of people who already patronize those establishments, not from new customers poker. Harrah's has 70 video poker machines and Hollywood Joliet has 88. Where would you go? This feels like our town's business climate is aiming for a niche somewhere between old Cicero and small town Wisconsin. Quaint it ain't.
Joe July 10, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Great decision. My compliments to the board on going against the grain of what the other communites have done. It's a step in the right direction, let's continue trying things to shake things up and attract some interest here. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Hank Olenick July 10, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Excellent....Now lets take it one step further and put a casino on that canal connect it to the restaurant space in Jerry's strip mall. Everyone wins.
Hank Olenick July 10, 2012 at 04:43 PM
At least the gambling will generate some revenue . The churches are just eating up prime real estate and pay no taxes.
sue bailey July 10, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Gambling by definition cannot be a "win win for everyone".
Dottie Malan July 10, 2012 at 05:14 PM
As I read this article, I had many thoughts. Trustees should be speaking for the village as "a whole." While I understand that there are some people who believe less government is more and businesses should be able to make their own decisions for the best of their business. I see a few problems with these arguements. I would hope that the decisions made for our village are made for the good of ALL the people in this village. Second, I read the article a few times, but I missed the part about if there will be an exchange of money if the person "wins' on the video poker games. Will they receive money or will they receive tickets or what will they receive? I don't think people will play video poker games just to put money in a machine without the possibility of winning something. I know the establishments will be making money. I understand the businesses in town need more customers, foot traffic, etc.... but bringing in gambling isn't the way to do it. According to the article, you need to sell alcohol to have a gambling poker machine. I read that statement as Alcohol + Gambling = fight & arguements = police calls.Then we'll have to hire more policemen. Our taxes are high enough! The value of our houses has gone down, no one wants to live in an area with gambling. What's next, a gentlemen's club? The village needs to come up with something else for foot traffic, this decision will only bring more problems and lower the reputation of this village.
Hank Olenick July 10, 2012 at 06:24 PM
"Alcohol + Gambling = fight & arguements = police calls." So THAT'S what goes on at casino night at the church every year! Good thing I don't attend ! Dottie , we are wide open for ideas ....let's hear it .
Tim Wall July 10, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Great decision by the board. If 5 businesses put in 5 machines each that is $625 in annual fees. Since the village gets 1/6 the total revenue... If each machine averages $200 per week, the village would receive $43,333 a year. Of course it could be a lot more than that. Time will tell. I look forward to enjoying some video poker at my favorite Lemont night spots.
Kerry July 10, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Lets hear some intelligent ideas from you.
Hank Olenick July 10, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Well "kerry" we have a dead canal and a dead downtown , how about building a full on casino.
Edward Andrysiak July 10, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Dottie...I served on a few Boards in my day...School Board...Credit Union Board...Bank Board...Condo Owners Board and the Board of my company. One thing I learned is that half the people like the decisions the Board makes and the other half object. It is difficult to make everybody happy! That being said you must remember these folks are elected to make the best decision, with the information they have or are given, to fufill their mission statement/charter. So, I believe they did make the best decision for the "village as a whole." I don't always agree with everything they do but I do believe they have the best interests of the community at heart. You seem to object to "less government" and "less individual decision making"...do you really mean that? Do you want someone telling what you can or can not do on a wholesale basis? If this turns out to be a bad idea I am sure they can recall the ordinance as fast as they wrote it. I'm for new ideas and for putting them to work. As a Board member I learned quickly that putting a complainer on a committee to improve or find a better way, if they didn't like the Board's idea really worked...it shut most of them up almost immediately...new ideas are often in short supply. Call this an expirement if you will, I think, you will see it will be a non event. I "gambled" here in Lemont when I was 16 years old at the pool hall on Canal Street...that was 60 years ago! No one even noticed. You will not notice these "one arm bandits" either.
Gary Benda July 10, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Tim, You might want to check your math...The Village would get 1/6th of the 30% that the State takes...A machine that makes $200 per week would give the State $60. 1/6th of that is $10 for the Village...25 machines, 52 weeks = $13,000. Not a very appealing profit for the Village, I think.
Tim Wall July 10, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I took it as 1/6 the total revenue of the machine as opposed to 1/6 of the states cut. $13k in "profit" as you call it, is better than $0. + if the 25 machines result in more visitors to town, that will result in more revenue from increased food and beverage sales+ anything else people happen to buy while they are in town.
Chris Hansen July 10, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Dottie needs to climb out from under the rock she is living. Edward hit it dead on... These people are b****ing and moaning about a few machines in a few bars. Unless you frequent Lemont bars there will be absolutely no change at all besides a few dollars for the city and the establishment. This is 2012 people... Alcohol + Gambling = A damn good time.
Hank Olenick July 11, 2012 at 02:16 AM
C'mon kids , I'm sure a couple of football bets could possibly take place at the club house on McCarthy St. . Rumor has it some of the existing poker machines pay out, with a wink and a nod. Tax the churches, that's where the real money is.
Hank Olenick July 11, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Sue ....couldn't be more right !!!! Vegas does not light up that strip by losing money!
antigambler July 11, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Dottie, no one will come to Lemont just for gambling machines that are limited to a maximum jackpot of $500. These machines are designed to fleece the locals who happen to be near them and get seduced into gambling. The "jackpots" are paid from a kiosk, like an ATM. However, very few will leave with any extra money. The maximum jackpot could be lost back to the machines in less than an hour. Gambling produces LOSERS. Pushers know that. That's why gambling is the ONLY business where the pushers don't participate. http://stoppredatorygambling.org/category/research-center/the-smartest-guys-not-in-the-room/ Contrary to Mr. Andrysiak's statement, this is NOT an experiment. Once the machines arrive, they will be grandfathered in when the town realizes the horrible mistake they made. South Carolina re-criminalized video gambling in the entire state after experiencing the devastation it caused there. Why would anyone invite "bandits" to their town?
Rick July 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Maybe these machines will only bring in $ 200 a week until people get back in the groove of playing them. When I use to bartend ther wasn't a night that the machines were not being played . Once a week they would come and collect the money and there was never $200 in it it was about $700-2000 ( depended on the jackpot #) in it even in the summer when business was slow. They should of never took out the machines in the first place. This is a good all around for the Village and the establishment owner .
Catherine Stukel July 11, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I heard that once someone has a drink of beer, it soon turns into hard liquor and then drugs --- then the world crumbles..... just sayin...
Dottie Malan July 12, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Chris, I am far from living under at rock and I find it ridiculous that you cannot express yourself without insulting someone or using profane language. I am an adult who chooses use her words intelligently, you should try it sometime.
Pink Chicago July 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM
I've been checking out the local stories for the 2 communities I'm considering to move (Lemont and Downers Grove) and spending time in the downtowns of both. This decision tips the scale, I will NOT buy a home in Lemont. Video Gaming will only increase the rowdy/rough crowd that I've experienced in Lemont's downtown. I feel very badly for the residents and what is going to happen to your quality of life and property values.


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