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Village of Woodridge moves step closer to lifting ban on video game gambling

Published: Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 4:26 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:49 p.m. CST
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Rich Lenski (left) and Chris Adair, both of Downers Grove, sit down at two of the video gaming systems at DJ's Sports Bar & Grill in October. Woodridge may soon vote to lift the ban on the terminals in town. Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com

WOODRIDGE – The Village of Woodridge will soon decide whether to lift its ban on video game gambling.

During a workshop meeting on Thursday, the Woodridge Village Board decided to bring the issue to a vote at a future meeting after discussion and statements from residents – eight people spoke, seven in favor of allowing it, one against.

Village Administrator Kathleen Rush said the topic will come to a vote either at the Jan. 23 or Feb. 13 meetings.

While no formal vote took place during the discussion workshop, five out of the six village trustees expressed approval for lifting the ban. Mayor Gina Cunningham did not publicly take a side.

"It's important to allow our businesses to compete," said Trustee Greg Abbott, who was in favor of lifting the ban.

Under state law, only businesses that hold liquor licenses would be allowed to operate the machines, including taverns, restaurants or fraternal organizations.

There are 24 businesses in the village that would be eligible under the guidelines, according to village documents.

Revenue for the Village of Woodridge would largely depend on how many businesses choose to offer video gaming terminals, as well as how many terminals they install.

A village document projects as much as $284,375 in annual revenue, though that figure assumes all 25 businesses install five machines.

Trustee Pamela Beavers was the only trustee to voice opposition. She said while she understands business side of it, there's a reason why other neighboring towns have not lifted their bans on video gaming.

"We have a greater responsibility to the village as a whole and to our citizens," Beavers said. "I don't want to see Woodridge turn into something else and less desirable."

Rich Moore – owner of Shanahan's Food & Spirits at 1999 E. 75th St. – said allowing video gaming will add another source of revenue for his business.

"If you opt not to have [video gaming] you're at a physical and monetary disadvantage to others communities," Moore said.

"Help small businesses stay in business. If we are not on a level playing field, I believe you're going to see restaurants close up."

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Surrounding communities split on video gaming

Towns where it's allowed

• Westmont

• Darien

• Willowbrook

• Lemont

Towns where it's banned

• Downers Grove

• Lisle

• Naperville

• Bolingbrook

• Hinsdale

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