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Elburn trustees continue video gaming debate

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 7:11 a.m. CDT

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ELBURN – At least one village trustee isn’t sold on legalizing video gaming in Elburn. Ken Anderson raised questions on the topic at Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting and urged officials to discuss the issue.

The topic was introduced at last week’s Village Board meeting. Elburn was among the communities that banned video gaming in 2009, after the state gave the green light for establishments with licenses to pour liquor also to apply for as many as five video gaming machines at a site.

Recent developments have officials revisiting that decision – Sugar Grove recently lifted its ban, although there is an advisory referendum on April’s ballot. Video gaming also is allowed in unincorporated areas of Kane County, and one establishment near Elburn, Blackberry Bar and Grill, has machines at its location, just south of Elburn on Route 47.

Elburn officials are considering lifting the ban to allow eligible local establishments to have machines installed. Schmidt’s Towne Tap on Route 47, for example, could be a location. Jay Spoden, president of Tiger Electronics, which installs such machines, was on hand to talk about the possibility.

The Illinois Gaming Board report for January shows that Blackberry Bar and Grill’s three machines netted $19,938 in January, a sum that is split up. A company, such as Spoden’s, which maintains the machines, gets 35 percent. The establishment keeps 35 percent. The state gets 25 percent. And the municipality gets 5 percent.

Ken Anderson said he didn’t doubt the machines are profitable, but he urged caution. He said the money is distributed, “but is this how we want it to be distributed?” He said that someone who might otherwise go to Jewel “to buy bacon, eggs and bread” now is “putting money into a machine.”

“Where does it come down to us helping people make good decisions?” he asked.

Village President Dave Anderson said it isn’t up to the board to make such moral decisions. Other board members appeared ready to explore video gaming, reasoning that if residents wanted to gamble, the machines were available with a short drive. Board member David Gualdoni said those who want to gamble likely already do so.

“They’re going to go somewhere else if they want to gamble,” Gualdoni said. He also said it’s not the village’s problem if someone has a gambling addiction.

Ken Anderson said he hoped there would be more discussion and the decision wouldn’t be rushed.

“I hope we don’t do this in two weeks. … We didn’t go two weeks in banning it,” he said.

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