Mokena not ready to bet on video gaming
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent May 22, 2012 5:46PM
Updated: July 2, 2012 9:56AM
Mokena village trustees say they won’t be rushed into making a decision on allowing video gaming in the community.
“How can you vote on something when you don’t know what you’re voting for?” Trustee Joe Siwinski said at a Monday workshop.
Village administrator John Downs said the village is waiting for answers from the state.
He said when the state began processing video gaming license applications weeks ago, many municipalities were denied because of local laws prohibiting gambling.
Downs said Mokena sent its ordinance to the state for review about a week ago because it allows only off-track betting and lottery gambling.
“The state has not made a determination that Mokena has an ordinance prohibiting gaming. At least, it’s not listed on the website as having a problem,” Downs said.
But Paul Jenson, a lawyer with the Chicago firm Schefsky and Froelich, which represents gaming industry clients, said Mokena does have a problem.
“Your ordinance is no different from scores (of ordinances) that already have been determined a problem (by the state),” Jenson said. “By simply doing nothing, all you’re doing is simply kicking the can down the road.”
Jenson urged the board to “take action to affirmatively fix the ordinance,” saying legislation to amend the state law is unlikely in an election year and litigation to change the law could take “six months to a year to get anything resolved.”
About half a dozen residents and business owners were in agreement with Jenson, saying revenue generated by video gaming would be good for their businesses and the village.
Mokena resident Vincent DiFiore said the “genie’s out of the bottle as far as gambling is concerned.
“I think they (businesses) should have the opportunity to have it,” DiFiore said.
Restaurant owner Sam Scrementi is concerned about what will happen if Mokena does not choose to go with the state’s program. He said during “some lean times” in a previous business, revenue generated from video games made the difference in his ability to pay utility bills.
Jim Hogan, commander of William Martin VFW Post 725, said the post’s survival depends on video gaming.
“Revenue generated by video gaming is absolutely required to keep the post going,” Hogan said.
Trustee comments generally were in favor of video gaming, but none of them said they were ready to commit.