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updated: 8/17/2012 4:57 PM

Legion post to make case for video gambling to the public

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The Sugar Grove American Legion Post, which wants to install video gambling terminals, is having an open house Sunday to discuss the matter with the public.

The event is prompted by a potential ban on video gambling in the village. The Sugar Grove village board Tuesday will discuss an ordinance banning the gambling, but a vote is not expected. Two weeks ago, the board informally decided it didn't want such gambling in town.

The open house is from noon to 5 p.m. at 65 First St. Members of the post, its Ladies Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion intend to answer questions about the state's video gambling law, the license application process, what the village could earn, and penalties for violating state law. A representative of Tiger Amusements, the company the Legion would rent the devices from, will also attend.

"The way we look at it is it is less about gaming and more about revenue," said Cliff Barker, chaplain for the Sons of the American Legion. "It would give us a better pool to put back in to the community."

The post already conducts gambling. It is licensed to sell pull-tab games. According to its 2010 tax return, pull-tabs brought in $2,650.

Barker estimated video gambling could bring in about $10,000 a year. The terminals would be in a small room off the remodeled dining hall/bar area on the first floor of the post. Besides having a wide entrance to the room, there would also be video surveillance, he said, so an employee could make sure nobody younger than 21 is gambling.

The post is a private organization, so entrance is restricted to members except during public events such as fish fries and smelt dinners, Barker said.

On Aug. 7, trustees Rick Montalto, David Paluch and Robert Bohler said they wanted to ban video gambling. Trustee Mari Nelson Johnson has been soliciting public input, including posting a request on her Facebook page.

The village could collect a $25 licensing fee per terminal each year, and would also get one-sixth of the tax collected on profits from the terminals.

If the village doesn't ban video gambling, fraternal organizations, veterans organizations, truck stops and businesses authorized to sell liquor for on-site consumption would be eligible for licenses. Potential sites currently include a golf course, a restaurant and a wine bar.

While the Legion wants the terminals, Barker said it realizes the board's decision isn't just about the Legion.

"They have to think about the whole village, not just us," he said.

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