Clarendon Hills Video Gaming Ban Passed by Village Board
Trustees who voted for the ban cited a lack of local control and a lack of local desire for video gaming as their reasoning.
The Clarendon Hills Village Board passed by a 4-2 vote Monday night an ordinance banning video gaming machines in village establishments, with trustees voting in favor of the ban citing the results of a recent community survey and a lack of local control.
The board had voted down a video gaming ban ordinance at its Aug. 20 meeting with a 3-3 vote that included Village President Tom Karaba voting against the ordinance and no vote from trustee Allan Alongi, who was absent.
Based on the request of multiple board members and new information regarding inquiries into the acquisition of video gaming machines by local establishments, Monday’s revote was put on the agenda, a memo in the agenda packet from village manager Randy Recklaus to the board reads.
Alongi voted in favor of the ban Monday, so a vote from Karaba was not necessary.
Alongi said he supported the ban because he did not like the fact that the village, under state statute, cannot regulate where machines are allowed around town and, if video gaming is allowed, does not have the authority on its own to pull machines out of one establishment and not another. All establishments with retail liquor licenses can acquire machines, or none can.
“I’m concerned that if I would vote to approve this that I would find myself reassessing it with the possibility of one establishment acting bad,” Alongi said.
He later said of the state’s statute, “It was a rotten way to do a law and it needs to be worked on some more.”
The video gaming issue arose last month when village officials became aware that the owners of Tracy’s Tavern were in the process of acquiring several machines, which were legalized in Illinois in 2009, but have not been available until recently as regulations were established.
Since the Aug. 20 vote, village staff has learned that other local establishments have become “interested in getting more information about” video gaming, Recklaus said, but none have formally applied.
As they have during both prior discussions on video gaming, trustees Ed Reid and Paul Pedersen turned to the results of the 2010 community survey. When asked if they supported having video gaming in the village, 72 percent of respondents to the survey said they did not, 14.1 percent said they did, and 13.7 percent said they did not know.
“In order for me to vote against what 72 percent of the people I live with want, I’d have to have a really pressing issue,” Reid said.
Trustees Steve Wallace and Paul Flood, as they did Aug. 20, voted against the ban.
Wallace said he viewed the ban as a “a preemptive strike” that prohibited one business from potentially benefiting from video gaming based on the assumption that video gaming will cause problems for the village.
“The reason for saying no may or may not happen,” Wallace said. “If it does happen, we can do something about it. This is not something where it’s cast in stone.”
At the center of the video gaming discussion have been Jack and Lucy Tracy, who say their bar is in need of additional revenue and would have no problem pulling out the machines if problems arose.
“I don’t know what the worth [of the machines] is because it hasn’t been tried—it’s an unknown,” Jack Tracy said. “The upside is there, but the downside we don’t know until we give it a shot.”
A letter to the board from Lucy Tracy included in agenda documents Monday expressed frustration with discussion of the video gaming issue, which she says was “slanted” from the outset, and accused the board of working against her and her husband’s business.
“We are being treated like the unwanted step-child who lives on the outskirts of town,” the letter reads. “After 37 years of serving in Clarendon Hills, we would expect a little more consideration and compromise.”
Karaba said the vote was not one against Tracy's Tavern, but more a vote against the state's wording of its statute.
Editor's note: Previous Patch stories about the video gaming discussion incorrectly stated that the Aug. 20 vote was a first consideration vote. The Aug. 20 vote was indeed an official vote and, as explained above, a revote was necessary to revisit the issue.