Mokena to allow video gambling
BY GINGER BRASHINGER For The Herald-News October 14, 2012 9:20PM
Updated: November 16, 2012 6:05AM
MOKENA — Already the home to an off-track betting parlor, Mokena will welcome video gambling in a few months after the village board on Monday night approved an amendment to a previous ordinance that banned it.
Trustees voted 4-1 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 video gambling machines, according to Werner, and William Martin VFW Post 725 officials have said the post will be in trouble without it.
Before Monday’s vote, post Cmdr. Jim Hogan thanked the board for all the time it put in researching the issue in the village. The village has been exploring video gambling since an April workshop.
“I wanted this not for myself; this is about the VFW, Mokena’s VFW. I believe they made the right decision,” Hogan said.
Conrad and Maureen Coultas, who own The Postgame Pub, were pleased the amendment passed. They said it would take six to eight months before gambling is place, so the village had to get the ball rolling.
Richmond said 90 percent of the people he talked to said it didn’t matter to them 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 interest in having machines, video gambling would result in $49,000 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 the machines. While some machines are being tested, a statewide launch of video gambling has yet to occur.