Batavia ready to allow video gambling?

  • A patron plays a video gambling machine at a Hoffman Estates bar. All signs point to Batavia allowing video gambling.

      A patron plays a video gambling machine at a Hoffman Estates bar. All signs point to Batavia allowing video gambling. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

Batavia seems ready to drop its ban on video gambling.

Aldermen voted 8-3 Tuesday as a committee meeting to do so. A binding vote could be taken as soon as Monday.

Gamblers shouldn't expect to see gambling cafes, such as a Dotty's Cafe, open up soon.

The council plans to allow video gambling only in places that have held a local liquor license for at least a year.

Only one resident, Lois Dahlstrom, spoke against it. She and her husband, Robert, have opposed it since Illinois started allowing video gambling in 2009. She cited concerns about gambling addiction and the social, economic and criminal effects associated with the addiction.

Another resident, two bar owners and Dale Richard, an officer with the Batavia Overseas Post 1197, Veterans of Foreign Wars, spoke in favor. All said it would help them compete against establishments in nearby towns -- such as North Aurora -- that allow it.

Aldermen Drew McFadden, Scott Salvati and Marty Callahan voted "no." Aldermen Dan Chanzit and Michael O'Brien were absent. Chanzit has opposed gambling in the past; O'Brien wants to allow it.

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"I feel like it helps a few businesses in town while sucking money away from a lot of other businesses in town that don't have the opportunity to generate revenue through video gambling," McFadden said.

The owner of Bulldog's Cellar Bar and Grill disagreed.

"I think that money is already being spent in surrounding communities in many cases," Jason Keller said.

When video gambling was allowed in 2009, Batavia opted out. It revisited the issue in 2014 at the request of business owners and the VFW but chose to keep the ban.

Aurora, North Aurora, Sugar Grove, Elburn, St. Charles and Kane County allow video gambling.

Bars, restaurants, social clubs, fraternal organizations and veterans organizations can have up to five gambling machines if they have a license to serve liquor on the premises. There are about two dozen places in Batavia that have such licenses.

The Illinois Video Gaming Board issues the gambling licenses.

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