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Mokena to allow video gambling

Commander Jim Hogan VFW Post 725 Mokenhad asked MokenVillage Board approve video gambling which it did Monday. | File photo

Commander Jim Hogan, of VFW Post 725 in Mokena, had asked the Mokena Village Board to approve video gambling, which it did Monday. | File photo

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Updated: November 11, 2012 6:13AM



After being on the fence for at least six months, Mokena is welcoming video gambling, as the village board on Monday night approved an amendment to a previous law that banned it.

Trustees voted 4 to 1 to allow video gambling, as allowed by a 2009 state law. Trustee Jim Richmond cast the lone dissenting vote. Trustee Debbie Engler was absent, but Mayor Joe Werner read a comment sent to him by Engler in which she indicated her support.

Werner said he will propose that the village do away with its vehicle sticker program, using revenue from gambling to offset that loss, so many residents will benefit from allowing gambling. Most vehicle stickers sold by the village cost $13.

About 13 or 14 business owners have expressed interest in having gambling terminals, according to Werner, and William Martin VFW Post 725 officials have said the post will be in trouble without the revenue they are expected to generate.

Before Monday’s vote, post Cmdr. Jim Hogan thanked officials for all the time they put in researching the issue. The village has been exploring video gambling since an April workshop. The village already has an off-track betting parlor.

“I wanted this, not for myself,” Hogan said. “This is about the VFW. Mokena’s VFW. I believe they made the right decision.”

Conrad and Maureen Coultas, who own Post Game Pub & Sedona Grille, at 9630 W. Willow Lane, were pleased the amendment passed. They said it still could take six to eight months before gambling is in place. The state has a licensing backlog, and the machines must be ordered, delivered and installed.

“We have to get the ball rolling,” Conrad Coultas said.

Richmond said 90 percent of the people he talked to didn’t care whether the village approved video gambling but that he voted against it based on integrity for the village, and because the state’s involvement raises too many questions.

“I wouldn’t do anything to hurt the VFW. I’ve lost sleep over this (decision) because of the vets,” he said.

The other trustees said they were comfortable with approving video gambling because they could always rescind the measure if something goes wrong.

Based on about a dozen or so businesses being interested in having machines, video gambling would result in almost $50,000 in annual revenue for the village, Werner has said.

To help finance a roughly $30 billion capital improvement plan, Illinois lawmakers in 2009 legalized video poker machines at licensed restaurants, taverns, truck stops, fraternal groups and other locations where alcohol is allowed.

The law allows local governments to opt out of the plan and prohibit video gambling.



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