Batavia City Council keeps ban on video gambling

Although it was by a narrow margin, the Batavia City Council Monday night refused to overturn a decision imposed five years ago that bans video gambling in the town.

Aldermen voted 8 to 6 to keep the ban in place.

Aldermen Drew McFadden, Kyle Hohmann, Dan Chanzit, Nick Cerone, Martin Callahan, Steve Vasilion, Jamie Saam and Susan Stark voted to keep the ban. Aldermen Garran Sparks, David Brown, Alan Wolff, Mike O’Brian, Lisa Clark and Lucy Thelin Atac voted the other way.

The Batavia Veterans of Foreign Wars Overseas Post 1197 approached aldermen in June about reconsidering the city’s previous decision not to allow video gambling.

Aldermen subsequently authorized its legal counsel in an 8 to 2 vote to prepare a draft ordinance to lift the ban, with McFadden and Hohmann voting no.

“This would have been more for entertainment, another tool for businesses to generate additional income. I wanted to support the VFW,” O’Brien said.

Objectors had said lifting the video gaming ban would invite a number of social ills to the community.

“Video gaming is another form of gambling which can be highly addictive,” longtime Batavia resident Lois Dahlstrom said after the vote.

Aldermen in 2009 voted to ban video gambling machines from coming to town, but did leave the door open to revisit the issue.

“I was supportive of the city looking into this, but the more I got into the information and weighed the benefits against the potential socio-economic cost to the community, I was not supportive of this,” Cerone said prior to Monday’s vote.

Vasilion said he reached out to constituents on his website and received only a few responses, mostly from local clergy adamantly opposed to video gaming based on moral and cultural concerns.

“Had neighbors and citizens come out in support of this, I would have looked at it differently,” Vasilion said.

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke had said he would not sign the ordinance, which essentially would veto it.

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