Deal Oak Forest in for video gambling
BY SARAH ZAVALA Correspondent June 27, 2012 10:32PM
Updated: July 29, 2012 5:11PM
The Oak Forest City Council on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for bars, restaurants and other establishments to install video gambling, but only after a lengthy debate on whether the machines will lead to more problems for chronic gamblers.
Ald. Dan Ensing (5th) voted against the ordinance change, expressing concerns about organized crime and people with gambling addictions.
Ensing said businesses in town are not like casinos. People with gambling problems can call casinos to ban them from going, but that can’t be done from the businesses in town, he said.
“More money is spent each year on a social basis to correct gambling issues than is actually returned from gambling,” Ensing said.
Ald. Richard Simon (2nd) said a continued ban on video gambling could send customers to neighboring towns that allow it.
Mayor Henry Kuspa agreed.
“Let’s make it a fair playing field,” he said.
Ald. Charles Toland (4th) said the city is not doing this “to solve our (financial) woes. We have passed a balanced budget and we have done what we needed to do to take care of our fiscal situation.”
Toland said adults can make their decisions about video gambling because it is legal in the state.
The new video gambling law calls for machine operators and the businesses that house the machines to receive 35 percent each of the profits. The state gets
25 percent and local government 5 percent.
Ald. Peter Muscarella (6th) asked if the city could charge a larger amusement tax and possibly take more of the revenue that is going to the business owner.
“I don’t mean to take anything away from the owners, but the dollar values are huge,” Muscarella said, adding he would like to see the money go toward schools or fixing roads.
Kuspa said as a home-rule community, the city has the authority to levy an amusement tax, but it is something council members will need to discuss.