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New Lenox Village Board close to vote on video gaming

New Lenox trustees on May 29 discussed  whether or not the village should opt out of the state’s Video Gaming Act, making it illegal for bar and restaurant owners to have video poker machines in their businesses.

A final vote is expected at the June 11 regular meeting.

As of mid-May, more than 250 communities in the state either already have ordinances banning the gaming terminals or have opted out of the state’s Video Gaming Act, according to the Illinois Gaming Board’s website. The program was approved by lawmakers in 2009 to raise funds for infrastructure projects throughout the state. The state’s gaming board began accepting applications for video poker licenses from businesses last month.

Of the seven-member New Lenox Village Board, three trustees—including the mayor—expressed opposition to video gaming, one trustee remains undecided, and three voiced no opinion at all. 

Trustee Ray Tuminello characterized the state’s involvement with video poker games as a “scam” to take money from residents.

The games are powered with software that reports all games and winnings to the state, and the state is responsible for turning winnings back to the liquor-serving business and to the municipality.                                                                            

Mayor Tim Baldermann and Trustee Nancy Dye focused their attention on the state’s ability to actually follow through on its obligation to turn 30 percent of the profits back to the business owners and five percent of the profits back to the hosting municipality.  “The state of Illinois cannot be trusted on what it promises,” Baldermann said.

Dye accused the state of extending “false hope” and went on to predict that any business that would expect to receive money from the state under these circumstances “will never get exactly as they are promised.”

While there were several village residents—including a spokeswoman from the New Lenox United Methodist Church—who spoke against allowing video poker machines, there were an equal number who spoke to support it.  Mary Goines, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, joined Jim Potter, owner of the local White Horse, who reminded board members that business stand to gain money and customers with the machines.

 In the event that New Lenox decides to ban video gambling, the bars and restaurants that currently have electronic poker games that are not considered gambling will be banned as well.  That is not a pleasant prospect for the New Lenox VFW, according to Bill Walter.

He said that organization stands to lose on both counts.  “We will lose a considerable amount of money and clients,” Walter said.

But several residents urged the board to opt out of the program.  “It is wrong to get money from gambling,” said Aija Bjorklund, a member of the United Methodist Church. 





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