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Tinley Park trustees OK video gambling

Updated: February 9, 2014 6:34AM



Tinley Park trustees on Tuesday night cleared the way for village bars, restaurants and other establishments that serve liquor to install video gambling machines, but it could be late summer before customers can play them.

The village conservatively estimates that it could receive between $180,000 and $300,000 in revenue annually from video gambling.

The move reverses the village’s stance against video gambling and comes after some business owners and nonprofit groups, including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, complained that they were at an unfair advantage because neighboring towns allow the machines, according to Trustee David Seaman.

Speaking prior to the village board’s vote, Bill Conner, commander of VFW Bremen Post 2791, said video gambling would benefit the village and organizations such as the post. He noted that the post would “return a lot of this money back into the community” through programs such as student scholarships.

After the vote, Conner said Post 2791 had “lost quite a bit of revenue” due to video gambling being available in nearby towns such as Oak Forest and Orland Hills.

Businesses and other establishments licensed to allow liquor consumption on their premises could install up to five gambling machines and would pay Tinley Park an annual license fee of $1,000 per machine, according to the ordinance approved Tuesday night.

There are 53 such licenses in the village, but officials don’t expect every business eligible for video gambling to pursue it. They estimate that it could take as long as nine months for businesses to have the machines operating, with licensing and background checks of terminal operators the state’s responsibility.

The Legislature approved video gambling in 2009, but it took about three years to implement the regulatory system and approve machine distributors and operators. Municipalities and counties could “opt out” of the state law, and in June 2012 Tinley Park trustees approved an ordinance prohibiting video gambling.

But video gambling has grown fast in popularity this year, and neighboring towns have realized thousands of dollars in new revenue.

Seaman said his primary concern about allowing the machines was that they would lead to increased crime. But Police Chief Steve Neubauer said in a recent memo to trustees that he talked to his counterparts in suburbs where the machines are allowed, and none reported a corresponding rise in crime.



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