Sugar Grove OKs video gaming — and spring vote on issue
By Linda Girardi For The Beacon-News January 9, 2013 10:46AM
Updated: February 11, 2013 7:09AM
SUGAR GROVE — Residents will be able to express their opinions on video gambling in the April election — but until then, video gaming will be allowed in restaurants, bars and social clubs in the village.
The Village Board took two separate votes Tuesday night that authorized putting a non-binding referendum on video gaming on the April 9 ballot, and repealed the village’s nearly 4-month-old ordinance that banned video gaming.
Trustees voted 5-1 on the motion authorizing the advisory referendum. Voting “yes” were Trustees Thomas Renk, Rick Montalto, Robert Bohler, David Paluch and Kevin Geary. Trustee Mari Johnson voted “no.”
Trustees voted 4-2 to repeal the video gaming ban that was voted in last September. Voting “yes” were Johnson, Montalto, Bohler and Paluch. Renk and Geary voted against lifting the ban.
“It is an important enough issue that the public speak clearly to the board what they want,” said Geary, who is challenging Village President Sean Michels in the April election.
Geary said although he is in favor of having the advisory referendum on the ballot, he would have preferred there had been the support to get the petitions to have a citizen-driven binding referendum. The deadline passed to get the binding referendum on the ballot.
Sugar Grove Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said the board can at anytime re-visit its vote.
The Village heard comments from 10 people expressing support and opposition to bringing video gaming to Sugar Grove.
“Once we open the flood gates, we can’t close them,” said Vickie Hadaway, pastor at Sugar Grove United Methodist Church.
Hadaway said her church is against gambling in any form.
“Gambling preys on those who do not have the resources and it diminishes their capacity to better themselves,” Hadaway argued.
David Smith, adjutant at the American Legion Post 758, said the video gaming machines are needed to put them in the competition with businesses in communities where gaming is permitted.
“We are not going to be a Las Vegas,” Smith said.
Smith said the nation sends soldiers to war, yet “the community refused to do a little thing like this to help the warriors.” Smith said the post is in need of the revenue to keep afloat.
“You can’t throw a protective bubble over Sugar Grove and pretend our residents won’t gamble — they just won’t gamble here,” said Cliff Barker, chaplain for the Sugar Grove American Legion.
“I am still opposed to video gaming, but I don’t want to see the post close,” Montalto said.
“This issue has divided our community,” said Melisa Taylor, Kane County Board member and Sugar Grove resident. “As an elected official, I want the voters to tell me what they want. Once the vote comes in, it will help all of these factions unite.”