Plainfield trustees reinforced their anti-video gambling stance Monday, voting unanimously to amend the village’s liquor ordinance to include a section banning gaming machines from local businesses.
During a Committee of the Whole meeting last month, trustees were vocal in their opposition, despite the fact that Illinois law made it legal for businesses to install video terminals starting Aug. 1.
“This is a bad deal all the way around,” trustee Margie Bonuchi said, while Bill Lamb called video gambling “an unfair form of taxation.”
But Plainfield business owner Vince Athy said the board’s decision will cost both the village and local business owners potential revenue.
“It’s really so similar to the Illinois state Lottery,” said Athy, who owns Fox’s Restaurant and Pub locations in Plainfield and Oak Lawn. “I don’t see the opposition to it.”
Under the Video Gaming Act, the state collects 30 percent of the net income from each video gaming terminal, with 1/6 of that amount going to the local municipality.
The remaining 70 percent is split between the business and the licensed operator.
“There has to be a licensed machine operator,” responsible for tracking the machines and collecting the proceeds, Athy said.
Prior to Monday’s vote, Athy sent a letter and a PowerPoint document to board members, outlining how much money video gambling terminals could bring the village.
Citing a video gaming impact study, Athy said each gaming terminal could average $126 net income per day. With the state allowing a maximum of five terminals per business and about 40 liquor license holders in Plainfield that could apply to install machines, that could add up, he said.
Prior to the village board’s vote, eight Plainfield businesses — Pioneer Lanes, Fox’s, Front Street Cantina, Moe Joe’s, Kelly’s Pub, Larry’s Diner, The Penalty Box and the American Legion post — had submitted applications with the Illinois Gaming Board to install video gaming terminals.
“At this point, it’s not even possible for a license holder in Plainfield to submit an application” due to the board’s stance, Athy said. “My gut feeling on it is, why turn away any tax revenue?”
Athy said he plans to install machines at his restaurant in Oak Lawn, where the board lifted an ordinance that banned video gambling.
He said he believes video gambling could generate enough revenue to help keep businesses going.
“The amount of turnover in restaurants in Plainfield over the last several years is crazy,” he said.
“The state is allowing it — I don’t see why we need the local authority disallowing it,” Athy said. “ … I’d like to try it and see if it works.”
Other liquor ordinance changes
The amended liquor ordinance made several other changes, including adding language that reduces the definition of a shot from three ounces to 1.5 ounces and barring businesses from serving alcohol outdoors before the start of indoor alcohol sales.
The ordinance also eases the burden of background checks for business owners, requiring them only for owners, while managers would have to submit to background checks only on an as-needed basis.