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Richmond asks: Go with video gaming?

RICHMOND – Tom Jiaras is hopeful village officials will allow his business to have video gaming machines.

Jiaras, who owns the American Cafe and the International House of Wine and Cheese in Richmond, and other liquor-license business owners attended Richmond’s Village Board meeting Thursday night to encourage village leaders to allow video gaming.

“With the proximity to the Wisconsin border, Richmond has an opportunity to create revenue,” Jiaras said.

Village officials did not vote on video gaming Thursday night.

Acting Village President Pete Koenig said a vote is likely to take place “within the next month.”

“We’ll have to put on the agenda a reconsideration of the ordinance that needs to be overturned to allow this,” he said.

Lynne Morris, of Morris Gaming, gave the board a presentation on video gaming, saying the video machines are similar to slot machines. The can run programs such as blackjack and video poker, she said.

Morris Gaming, of Skokie, is a licensed video gaming terminal operator that could partner with Richmond businesses if the village board approves.

The village would receive sales tax revenue on the net income generated by the gaming machines. While revenues are split in half between the business and terminal operator, the state collects 25 percent and local governments receive 5 percent.

The state approved the Video Gaming Act in 2009, making electronic gaming an option in establishments such as bars, truck stops and veterans posts.

The law designates the Illinois Gaming Board with the responsibility of implementing and regulating gaming. Each establishment is limited to five gaming terminals and they can be used only by those who are 21 years and older.

State regulators have indicated the application approval process for video terminal operators, technicians, establishments and third-party contractors could be finalized and ready to “go live” in August. The Legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn ushered the Video Gaming Act as a way to help pay for a $31 billion capital projects program.

Officials in nearby Spring Grove and Fox Lake recently took action to permit video gaming.

Spring Grove Village President Mark Eisenberg has said the board’s move was to ensure that local establishments stay competitive with other communities.

This week, the McHenry City Council also approved an amendment to allow video gaming in the city.

Jiaras said he’s confident that offering video gaming for his customers would enhance his business and benefit the local economy overall.

“The last thing I would want to do is jeopardize the 35 years of good will that my family and I have built up from this community,” he said.

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