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Aurora social clubs concerned over state’s video gaming ban

Tinley Park appears ready reverse long-standing ban gambling is considering allowing video terminals village businesses. | File photo

Tinley Park appears ready to reverse a long-standing ban on gambling and is considering allowing the video terminals in village businesses. | File photo

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Updated: February 26, 2013 6:42AM

The 2009 law that permitted video gambling machines to be installed in restaurants and bars doesn’t extend to private social clubs, the Illinois Gaming Board ruled Thursday.

And that has many private clubs in the Aurora area concerned.

Some 20 such clubs statewide had applied in recent months to be licensed to offer video gaming, and on Thursday the board rejected those types of applications, said Gene O’Shea, a spokesman for the Gaming Board.

“It was just basically a point of clarification for some of these social clubs that have applied, saying you’re not going to be allowed to have video gaming because they don’t fall under the legal definition of a retail establishment,” O’Shea said.

O’Shea said gun, fishing and hunting clubs are the kinds of clubs that wouldn’t qualify to be allowed to install the gaming machines.

Richard Lamphere, manager of the Luxemburger Club in Aurora, is convinced this ruling by the Illinois Gaming Board will not only hurt his club, in existence since 1917, it could very well put all of Aurora’s many other private clubs out of business.

He says the club is already affected financially by the fact the Turner Club and Parkside Lanes, both located in Aurora Township, have started offering video gambling, as has Little Red School House in North Aurora; Blackberry Bar and Grill in Elburn; Olde Tyme Inn in Sandwich; and The Friendly Tap in Plano.

“There’s no doubt we are being discriminated against,” said Lamphere.

The first of the legal video gambling machines went live in the Fox Valley in December when Parkside Lanes began offering the video machines in the bowling alley that is located right outside the city limits. Aurora has yet to OK video gambling at any sites in the city.

Ron Jakious, who was president of the Luxemburger Club until January, says the decision Thursday by the gaming board will affect the entire community because the many private clubs in Aurora sponsor so many youth sports programs.

Jay Spoden, president of Tiger Amusements/TAV Gaming, who is also a member of the Luxemburger Club, said Thursday “was not a good day for private clubs” in Illinois.

“They are getting screwed,” he said.

His Sugar Grove-based company is a supplier of video gambling machines

But the decision by the gaming board “was not a death knoll by any means,” he added, because the issue will come before the board again in a month.

Spoden believes there are other ways to get around this problem. The state, he says, is likely not aware of how many years these private clubs have been around and have been paying into the system.

The problem, he said, is that “five guys who want to drink in a garage” can apply for a liquor license and therefore be deemed a private social club. He said it could just be a matter of changing the rules to include private clubs that have been in operation for a certain length of time.

He said it could also mean adding another layer of licensing — one that would fit the description for organizations like The Luxemburger Club, Tiger Club or Third Ward Club that have been around for so long.

But Lamphere worries that time may run out on these private clubs as this issue continues to be debated. The clubs are just holding on now, he said, and by the time this gets resolved, “it may be too late.”

Sun-Times Media contributed
to this story.

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