Video gambling ban may soon be lifted in Warrenville

Warrenville aldermen could repeal the city's longtime ban on video gambling as early as next month.

City attorneys and staff are finalizing details for an ordinance that would allow select licensed businesses to have up to six video gambling machines. The city council is scheduled to vote on the measure during its Sept. 7 meeting.

Illinois legalized video gambling in 2009, but towns and counties were able to opt out. Warrenville enacted its ban that year.

In recent months, many business owners have approached city council members asking the city to drop its ban, according to Warrenville Mayor David Brummel. The business owners said they need video gambling machines to generate more revenue.

"There's certainly opposition to the gambling aspect in the community," Brummel said. "But what we've determined is that there is enough benefit if we can control it enough so that it is not going to change the nature of the community, but that the benefit will help the community in terms of revenue."

The proposed gambling ordinance has several provisions and restrictions, including requiring businesses to operate in Warrenville for one year before applying for a gaming liquor license.

"We want it to be an accessory to a going business as opposed to one of those gaming cafes," Brummel said.

Still, there are some disagreements about the ordinance among the aldermen.

For example, there's debate about whether a movie theater should be excluded from having video gambling machines. There also is talk about crafting a carve-out for Warrenville VFW Post 8081 since it doesn't have the same food preparation capabilities as required in the ordinance among restaurants and bars.

"They're looking for a little help. They're struggling just like the rest of us," said Brummel about the VFW. "Their population is aging, they're having difficulty getting people into the club, so they were hoping the gaming could not only attract people but also bring in some income."

Brummel said Warrenville found a much more receptive response to video gambling, with six out of 24 surveyed businesses and organizations expressing an interest. Using 2019 data from communities in or near DuPage County, Warrenville's staff estimated video gambling could generate $47,900 to $61,600 in annual revenue.

"It's not a huge game-changer, but I think it is something that will help out the city and the businesses that choose to participate," Brummel said. "We're trying to bridge the gap between difficult times and the better times that are coming - hopefully."

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