Village Board revisits video gaming ban

By on February 22, 2013

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village Board members have decided to revisit the village’s ban on video gaming, which has been in place since September 2009. At that time, village trustee Jerry Schmidt was the only board member in favor of video gaming. Current trustees Bill Grabarek, Ken Anderson and Jeff Walter were against the measure.

Schmidt at the time said that video gambling would be a pro-growth measure, and that it would boost the village budget through the tax revenue it produced.

“If we ban it in Elburn, and they have it in other towns, people are going to go there instead,” he said at the time.

In the three-and-a-half years since the Village Board reached a decision its decision on video gaming, Kane County reversed a ban it had imposed on video gambling, and Blackberry Grill, south of town in unincorporated Kane County, installed three machines last fall. Two more machines were to be delivered to the location as of Wednesday, for a total of five altogether—the maximum number allowed.

Trustee Jeff Walter brought the issue back to the board at a recent meeting, saying that two business owners had approached him about revisiting the ban.

“What concerns me is Blackberry Inn has allowed it,” Walter said. “Are we going to lose customers? Are we going to lose tax dollars?”

Knuckleheads owner Betsy Brizek and Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt both have said they are interested in obtaining the licenses to bring machines into their taverns. Although the Elburn Lions Club had considered it awhile ago, Park Board Treasurer Tim Klomhaus said that they had decided against it.

The Lions Club is more about family and young kids, Klomhaus said. Also, the facility is not open on a daily basis, which would make it less of an option.

Trustee Schmidt is still in favor of allowing video gaming, saying that he wants to do what is best for the village.

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, and the state receiving 30 percent. The municipality receives one-sixth of the state’s take, or 5 percent of the total revenues.

Grabarek said he still has a problem with video gaming in the village, but noted that the village could really use the potential revenues. He said that Blackberry Grill is making $800 a month after three months, and that’s with three machines.

“The revenue (for Elburn) could be substantial,” Grabarek said. “It could be $1,000, $1,500 a month.”

Grabarek on Wednesday said he almost has to bite the bullet and support the measure.

Kane County Board member Drew Frasz said that he doesn’t see it as a revenue producer.

“A dollar spent on video machines is a dollar not spent down the street at the grocery store or other establishments,” he said. “It doesn’t make money; it redistributes it.”

The board will vote on the issue at its meeting on Monday, March 4.