Video gaming vote postponed

By on March 8, 2013

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village President Dave Anderson on Monday put off voting on the video gaming issue, due to the absence of two trustees. Jerry Schmidt was on vacation, and Ethan Hastert was called out of town for work.

Elburn resident Al Herra still had some feedback for the board on the issue.

“Before you vote on this, you should think about who wins,” Herra said. “It’s not the community that wins.”

Herra said that the people who lose their money at video gaming end up not having it to spend at other businesses. Calling it a redistribution of the money in town, he said that the only winners are the state of Illinois and the bar with the machines.

The Village Board first considered video gaming in 2009, when trustees implemented a ban on it in the village of Elburn. Although Walter was in favor of the ban at that time, he said that since then, the state has clarified the rules for how it would work.

In addition, Kane County has since reversed its ban, allowing the Blackberry Bar & Grill south of town to install machines last fall. Some of the trustees said they were concerned that Elburn’s dollars would be spent outside of town, including places such as the bar and grill.

Blackberry Bar & Grill owner Pam Moutray said she has been pleased with the results since they installed the machines. They had three put in last fall, and recently added two more, for the five machine maximum.

Moutray stated that she knows some people have concerns that the machines will attract “seedy” people, but said that has “absolutely not been the case.”

“We have husbands and wives who come in together, and they are happy to have some place to go,” she said. “They’re happy to have a neighborhood place to spend their money.”

Moutray said she is also pleased with the revenues the machines are bringing in.

“Our cut has met our expectations and then some,” she said.

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 revenue.

Sugar Grove has also lifted its ban, but will hold a citizen referendum on the issue in the spring. The referendum is non-binding and advisory, which means the board is not required to change anything, based on the results of the vote.

Elburn resident Fred Houdek also had some feedback for the board on video gaming, and said he feels that bringing video gaming to Elburn doesn’t really fit with the values of the Elburn residents, and that it “sends the wrong message.”

“I don’t think we’re the ones that are going to profit,” he said.

Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt and Knuckleheads Tavern owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would install the machines in their bars. Although the Elburn Lions Club initially considered video gaming at its facility, Park Board Treasurer Tim Klomhaus said that they had ultimately decided against it.

Anderson did not say when the video gaming issue would be brought before the board.