With slot machine salesmen and liquor licensees urging the Fox River Grove Village Board to legalize what proponents like to call “video poker,” the Board complied on a 6-0 vote.
Frank Gumma, owner, Ideal Gaming, Inc., East Dundee, made the successful pitch.
He characterized the proposal as “casual type gambling.”
What kind of gambling?
“Blackjack, poker and line games like slot machines,” Gumma replied.
He touted the regulation of the Illinois Gaming Board as “the most difficult gaming board in the whole country.”
He said Fox River Grove should approve video gambling in order to attract new restaurants, which would come to town because neighboring towns, such as Cary and Barrington, have not done so. $30-35,000 more in income his competitor slot machine supplier Chris estimated.
“The nearest is Port Barrington,” he observed.
Gumma pointed out that Illinois was the seventh state “to go legal.”
One Trustee asked a prescient question, considering that coin-operated machines overseen by the Syndicate were run out of Fox River Grove for decades:
“How are we going to be sure there won’t be any criminal element involved in this?”
“They (the State Gaming Board) have done their due diligence and then some,” competitor Chris Hersh (sp?), sitting in the front row next to bar owners, added.
Trustee Michael Schiestel asked if the salesman had an studies on negative social impact.
Commenting on the possibility, Gumma replied, “I’d like to think not.”
No one was in the audience to provide a rebuttal to any of the proponents’ arguments.
One of Schiestel’s seatmates, Suzanne Blohm asked if “we can opt out at a future time.”
Trustee Michael Ireland pointed out that it was an “annual permitted use.”
Village Attorney John Donahue did not contradict Ireland.
When asked their opinions, the tavern and restaurant owners were uniformly in favor of approval of the extra stream of revenue.
“We’re just bringing in another vendor,” one said.
After the salesman observed that the average person will take home 92% of what he or she bet, Steve Knar pointed out that “the average person will end up losing a lot more” compared to an experienced player.
“Don’t misrepresent it to them or to us.”
“I don’t see this being any kind of problem,” the owner of Deadman’s Pub said.
He told of people coming in when his bar was empty, ordering a beer and leaving.
“This will entertain him for a couple of minutes. He’ll play it casually. ”
“We need to help our businesses,” Knar said observing that people would go to Cary or Barrington, if they said, “Yes,” and we said, “No.”
Schiestel followed the line of argument that “if money is spent on a machine, it won’t be spent somewhere else” like “groceries.”
“I think it would help our businesses attract more people,” Jerry Menzel countered.
Schiestel asked the median income of slot machine players.
Chris said he didn’t have that information.
Menzel asked if the house didn’t “always win.”
“Of course,”Gumma replied forthrightly.
Menzel wondered if the proposal wasn’t “a recreational sport.”
“Yes,” Gumma said.
He then told of a trip he took to West Virginia to check out how the industry operates there.
Talking to two men watching sports at the bar, he learned that both of their wives were at the machines elsewhere in the establishment.
Village President Robert Nunmaker then entered the conversation.
“It’s not about the money,” he said, referring to the Village’s 5% cut of the money gambled.
“It’s an issue of supporting our businesses and doing what’s right for our residents.”
“I don’t think we’re in the business to dictate or allow how our residents enjoy themselves,” Knar added.
“I’m not particularly fond of social engineering,” Menzel agreed.
Although I didn’t get her words, Trustee Joanna Colletti expressed a similar opinion.
With the Mayor not voting, the proposal to bring back legalized open gambling in Fox River Grove passed 6-0.