Video gambling may soon be allowed in Batavia.
Batavia aldermen, in an 8-2 vote at Tuesday's joint committee meeting, said they favored repealing a 2009 ban on video gambling. A formal ordinance will be presented at next Tuesday's committee meeting, and if approved then, would be voted on at the July 28 council meeting.
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Aldermen Kyle Hohmann and Drew McFadden voted against the measure. Aldermen Susan Stark, Jamie Saam, Dan Chanzit and Marty Callahan were absent.
The council banned gambling in 2009, leery of it because the state hadn't finalized plans on how it would regulate it. After seeing how the state is handling it, Alderman Garran Sparks said he was fine with letting the state be in charge of it.
Hohmann disagreed. "We should be looking at 'Is it good for Batavia or bad for Batavia as a whole,'" Hohmann said. He said he could support allowing veterans' and fraternal organizations to have video gambling, but that it "would not be good" to have it in every bar.
Bars, restaurants and social clubs can have it if they have a license to serve liquor on the premises.
Representatives of the Batavia Overseas Post 1197, Veterans of Foreign War, asked the council to allow video gambling. No bar or restaurant owners have asked.
Police Chief Gary Schira said there are 26 liquor-licensed bars and restaurants in Batavia that would be eligible for video gambling, in addition to the VFW and fraternal organizations.
Alderman Dave Brown said if it were only approved for veterans' posts and lodges, "The restaurants will be here at the very next meeting saying they are losing customers to the establishments that are allowed to have it."
Schira reported he checked with neighboring towns that allow video gambling, including North Aurora, to see if crime had increased because of it.
"The answer to that was overwhelmingly 'no,'" Schira said. Nor have the towns found any organized-crime involvement in the businesses or the terminal operators, he said.
Dale Richard, past commander of the VFW post and its spokesman on the issue, told the council again that having video gambling would help its finances. The VFW believes it is losing its bar customers to the nearby Aurora Turners Club and the Batavia Moose Lodge, both of which have video gambling because they are in unincorporated Kane County.
"It's not going to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the situation we are in, a little bit helps. This little bit will help a lot," he said.