North Aurora changes course, will allow local video gaming
By Denise Linke For The Beacon-News July 18, 2012 1:04PM
Updated: August 23, 2012 9:56AM
NORTH AURORA – After voting against video gaming just two weeks ago, two North Aurora trustees changed their mind Monday and voted to allow the gambling machines
The Village Board reversed the 4-2 vote it took June 18 to opt out of the Illinois Gaming Commission’s video gambling program, which shares proceeds with municipalities that allow liquor license holders to install video poker and other online gambling terminals. At the first vote, trustee Laura Curtis said video gaming would increase crime and gambling addiction, while trustee Vince Mancini argued against unofficially taxing poor people, whom he said are more likely to gamble. Trustees Chris Faber and Mark Gaffino also voted against video gaming, leaving trustees Mark Guethle and Ryan Lambert as its only supporters. Village President Dale Berman argued in favor of video gaming, but could not vote.
On Monday, Turf Room owner Parker Grabowski spoke for about two dozen proponents who attended the meeting, as well as 150 people who had signed a petition. He said state regulations will make video gaming safe and easy to regulate, especially in North Aurora, where only 12 businesses meet the Gaming Commission’s criteria to offer it.
“No minors will even see my games because they will be built into the bar top, and nobody under 21 can even go into the bar,” Grabowski said. “Kids see Lotto and scratch-off lottery ticket machines at the grocery store, so I don’t think just seeing video gaming machines in a restaurant will be a problem.”
Jim Ruzicka, vice president for sales of Universal Gaming Group, the Gaming Commissions’s machine vendor, described video gaming as small-stakes “convenience gambling” that will not attract addicts.
“It’s not going to be a one-armed bandit,” he said. “The win rate is mandated at 82 percent. We’re told to set the machines at 88 percent for wheel games and 93 percent for poker to give customers a good gaming experience.”
The machines will have a $2 bet limit, and many players will bet only a nickel, dime or quarter at a time, Ruzicka said.
Grabowski predicted North Aurora would make about $35,000 per year in permit fees and gambling proceeds from just five machines. If all 12 eligible businesses install the maximum five machines, the village could get as much as $360,000 per year, Village Administrator Wes Kornowske said in June.
While Curtis and Mancini again voted against video gaming, Faber and Gaffino changed to yes votes.
“The more I thought about it, the more I think business owners should have the opportunity to decide if they want to offer video gaming,” Gaffino said. “People are going to go somewhere [to gamble]. I don’t think serious gamblers are going to go play a $2 machine when they can go to a casino in Aurora. I think will bring in some business to the village.”
Trustees asked staff to prepare a new version of the video gaming ordinance that will tighten restrictions on displaying machines in sight of children. They expect to vote on the measure July 30 or Aug. 13.