When the state of Illinois first passed video gaming, there were no guidelines or procedures in place so Barrington decided to opt out of it, former Trustee Steve Miller said.
“We were afraid it would just be a crazy set of circumstances,” Miller said. “We made a decision to ban it or opt out as a starting point until it was working in proper order.”
The testimony given at Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting and a prior meeting showed video gaming is well regulated, probably more regulated than other gambling going on around town, he said.
Barrington trustees heard a few new perspectives of video gaming as the board continued Monday hearing the pros and cons of allowing video gaming into the village. A group of restaurant and bar owners are asking the village allow video gaming, arguing other communities have passed it and have created an unfair playing field.
The board asked for public input but most of the comments have been in support of allowing video gaming.
Jim Carlstrom is a restaurant owner who provided a different perspective as an independent business. Barrington has worked hard for years to bring back the vibrancy of the downtown, he said. But downtown restaurants may be losing business to communities that allow video gaming.
What video gaming does is give restaurants or bars the ability to have to keep food prices down and a way to turn a profit and cover the costs no one thinks about, he said.
“Weigh your options,” Carlstom said, suggesting a one-year trial period then see what happens.
Village President Karen Darch plans to research the idea of having a one-year trial period and will get the board’s feeling on whether it wants to consider overturning the ban. The next village board meeting is Oct. 14.
Kathy Gilroy was the only person who spoke against video gaming. She lives in Villa Park and has encouraged other towns to reject video gaming. Gilroy warned some towns are seeing gambling cafés opening up that focus on video gaming..
Video gaming is like a set of dominos that are dropping all over as more and more towns start allowing it. But she said the consequences won’t be seen for 18 months as people become addicted.
“You can smoke or not. You can drink or not. You can gamble or not,” Carlstrom said.
One can find gambling just about anywhere from casinos to horse tracks to state wide lottery, Miller said.
“I don’t think we are introducing anything really new other than giving people the opportunity to enjoy the places they frequent,” he said.
Video gaming could help restaurants and bars that lost business due to Barrington’s smoking ban a few years ago, Miller said.
“My thought for the day is: the ultimate in gambling is politics,” Miller said.