Ready or not, here it comes.
The ordinance prohibiting state approved video gaming within the was unanimously amended Tuesday night.
Now, establishments with an on-premise consumption liquor license will be allowed to install video gambling machines. All machines are regulated to accept nothing higher than a $2 bet and to pay out no more than $500. Rather than dispensing money, the machines print out vouchers that can only be redeemed by special ATM-like machines.
Not all in attendance were supportive of the change, though.
Lucy Kokal spoke on behalf of St. Andrews United Methodist Church in opposition of the ordinance amendment. Underage gambling and gambling addiction were Kokal’s chief concerns. During the meeting, she quoted a newspaper article highlighting the alleged strife video gambling has brought the state of South Carolina. She also cited various gambling addiction statistics to illustrate the potential dangers of the activity.
“We are making very, very available, an addictive behavior to our people, our community,” Kokal said. “It takes a lot of loses by our residents in order for Homewood to (make money off the gambling).”
5th Quarter Tap owner Steve Nemitz feels differently than Kokal. He was in attendance during the meeting in support of the ordinance amendment.
“You can go within four blocks and buy a $30 lottery ticket," Nemitz said. "It’s about entertainment, and entertainment brings in customers. This isn’t profitability, this is survival.”
Tin Ceiling Tavern owner of 17 years Mike Burns was also present. He says the bar business is tougher now than ever. While neither Nemitz nor Burns think gambling is a cure-all, they’re both hoping the additional income might provide some relief.
“We need every little bit of help we can get,” Mike Burns said.
According to Nemitz, the opportunity to run video gambling machines is a rare example of state supporting his business.
“This is the first time that the government and the state of Illinois has looked at the restaurant/bar industry and said, ‘We’re going to help you,’” Nemitz said. “This is the first time we’re getting a piece of the pie.”
To Trustee Barbara Dawkins, the issue is about business.
“We want to do what we can to support businesses,” Trustee Barbara Dawkins said. “I really don’t think that providing slot (sic) machines to these businesses will result in the apocalypse.”
Protecting Homewood’s family-friendly environment was on Trustee Anne Colton’s mind as she was considering the vote.
“I personally don’t have a problem with bringing gambling into a community providing it’s adults doing it,” Colton said. “I think adults need to be allowed to make the decisions that adults make."