Video gambling machines arrive in Joliet, but no bets yet
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org August 1, 2012 12:54PM
Rick Laich, driver with Hassett Express, wheels one of five Spielo video lottery machines into Izzy's Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, at 507 Theodore St. in Joliet. The establishment is the first in Will County to get them. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Licenses Approved in Will and Grundy counties
Beecher AMVETS Post 67 in Beecher Bogies Sports Bar in Morris Brandt’s Tavern in Morris Hot Pan in Joliet Izzy’s Place in Joliet Peotone Bowl and Lounge in Peotone
Bogies Sports Bar in Morris
Brandt’s Tavern in Morris
Hot Pan in Joliet
Izzy’s Place in Joliet
Peotone Bowl and Lounge in Peotone
Updated: September 3, 2012 12:56PM
JOLIET — Five of the first video gambling machines in the state arrived at Izzy’s Place on Wednesday morning.
Customers at the Joliet bar will not be able to place any bets for weeks. But the machines are in.
“Nice,” said owner Alfonso Izquierdo, better known as Izzy, as he looked at the first machine being unwrapped while still on the truck. “These are as nice as the ones in the casino.”
The machines will be tested in the coming weeks to make sure they function with a computer command center that monitors the betting and controls when the devices are on and off. A money box will come later, which will dispense winnings, and that also has to be tested.
“This was not a quick process,” Izquierdo said, who now is dealing with more government regulation than he ever had before.
But, he said, “I expected it because this is what you have to do to get the machines. It’s a matter of whether I wanted them or whether I didn’t want them. I wanted them. And, now that they’re here I’m happy.”
The machines at Izzy’s Place are among the first to be shipped to bars, fraternal organizations, veterans’ lodges and even truck stops. They all can have video gambling if their licenses are approved.
Izzy’s is the first place in Joliet to get the machines and only one of two to have its license approved so far. The other is the Hot Pan noodles and dumpling restaurant in a strip mall on Essington Road.
But dozens of establishments in the area have applied for the games in the Joliet area. If they all get them, video gambling will become commonplace.
The gambling machines started going out June 24, said Gene O’Shea, spokesman for the Illinois Gaming Board.
O’Shea said the state board expects to allow the games to go live by Labor Day, which is Sept. 3, although there will be betting before then at five test sites yet to be determined. Gambling at the test sites probably will run two weeks before the state authorizes it to start elsewhere, as long as the test sites run smoothly, O’Shea said.
At Izzy’s Place, the machines had been a big topic of conversation even before they arrived, Izquierdo said. He said the tavern has even seen some new customers, who heard Izzy’s was getting the machines and stopped in to check out the place.
Arin Landman, a regular at Izzy’s, said he expects to gamble on the machines, which offer a variety of slot games and video poker. Landman was one of a few customers at Izzy’s, which opens at 6 a.m., as the machines were being installed.
Landman said he liked the idea of being able to gamble at the bar, where he is among friends.
“I really don’t go to the casinos that much,” Landman said. “This I like. It’s a little more convenient.”
The state’s casino industry supported the legislation that made video gambling legal.
Ted Swoik with the Illinois Casino Gaming Association said the casino industry’s view is that video gambling was going on in bars anyway, and the casinos do not expect to lose much business once it becomes legal.
“This,” Swoik said, “gives the state a chance of getting some of the taxes.”