Algonquin trustees didn’t jump on the video gaming bandwagon last fall when the Illinois Gaming Board allowed video gaming in bars and restaurants, instead opting for a six-month waiting period — much to the dismay of business owners like Ken Fishleigh.
“We are missing the boat,” said Fishleigh, owner of Nero’s Pizza and Pub Monday when the issue resurfaced at a village board meeting. “All of our businesses have suffered the last few years just trying to hold on. We hope the village gives us a chance to give us a boost.”
Now, the board is ready to consider an ordinance allowing video gaming.
Trustees agreed to have staff draft an ordinance that will be discussed next month. A point that needs to be determined is whether to include a sunset clause, an idea Mayor John Schmitt raised during talks Monday.
“I am personally against it,” Schmitt said. “I don’t think it’s positive…however, we have businesses that seem to think this is going to be very beneficial to them. I’ve had two or three people comment to me that they are opposed. One thing I would suggest as a way out of this is what if we put in a sunset clause.”
Cities and villages have the authority to pass an ordinance that allows any business which has a liquor license to obtain licensing for up to five video gaming terminals.
So far, 703 municipalities have passed ordinances allowing video gaming while 244 have voted not to allow it, said Nick Lennox, a terminal operator who provides gaming terminals to businesses.
There are over 2,600 pending applications to the Illinois Gaming Board, Lennox said. According to reports, legalized video gaming brought in $2.5 million.
Surrounding towns that have approved ordinances have reported no problems, said Michael Kumbera, assistant to the village manager.
“I would definitely be in favor of moving forward with this, to allow legal video gaming in the village,” Trustee Robert Smith said.
Other trustees are not sold on the idea but agreed to move forward with a draft ordinance. Trustee Jerry Glogowski is not in favor and has found Algonquin residents do not want video gaming.
Trustee Jim Steigert feels video gaming in not an image he wants to see projected in Algonquin. But, he said he would be willing to consider an ordinance that has a sunset clause in case any problems are created by the video gaming.
A sunset clause may not be a good idea for businesses that are willing to make an investment in terminals, Trustee Debby Sosine said. If it takes two or three years to get that investment back, a sunset clause could be detrimental, she said. Lennox said the cost to install five terminals is about $100,000.
While the state’s guidelines gives cities and villages the ability to rescind the ordinance at anytime, DeKalb has chosen to put a five-year sunset clause in the ordinance itself to prevent any problems, Lennox said.
“I don’t think we will have Mafia backed games,” Fishleigh told trustees. “This will be clean entertainment for people. It will increase our sales tax revenue. It will increase food and alcohol sales. I don’t see where there’s a bad part of this.”
“We operate a good facility,” he said. “We don’t feel it will lower our standard by having these machines.”