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posted: 4/10/2013 5:03 PM

Sugar Grove Legion post ready for video gambling

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By the time you read this, it's likely somebody will have gambled via a video machine in Sugar Grove.

Three machines at the Sugar Grove American Legion post were due to be turned on at 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to Cliff Barker, chaplain of the post's Sons of the American Legion auxiliary and spokesman for video gambling matters. He was at work Wednesday afternoon, and so was not sure if the machines were activated.

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The machines were installed two weeks ago, but the post and the gambling vendor waited until after Tuesday's advisory referendum on whether Sugar Grove should continue to allow video gambling. Candidates for village board had said they would abide by the decision of the voters.

Twenty-one percent of registered voters cast ballots: 632 said "yes," and 586 said "no." Trustee Kevin Geary, who ran unsuccessfully for president, had called last fall for a binding referendum on the matter, saying he was "on the fence" about whether to allow the gambling. The town banned video gambling last September, but in January the Legion convinced the village board to overturn the ban.

"It (the referendum) came in just like we had called it," Barker said. "We had held fast that there was a very vocal minority for it, and a very vocal minority against it, and the vast majority had no opinion."

The Legion is allowed up to five machines.

Members can play them daily when the post bar is open. The public can play them Thursday through Sunday when the bar is open or the post is having events such as fish frys, special dinners and fundraisers. Barker said the post may open its kitchen more often for public events.

"We couldn't keep going the way we were going," Barker said. He said attendance was declining at such events as people instead went to dinner at taverns just outside Sugar Grove, where video gambling was allowed since last fall.

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