Quantcast

Aldermen shun gambling machines

A new state law allows bars, restaurants and clubs to feature electronic gambling machines. But aldermen say they don’t intend to permit wagering in Evanston.


A new state law allows bars, restaurants and clubs to feature electronic gambling machines. But aldermen say they don’t intend to permit wagering in Evanston.

“I don’t find any aspect of those machines beneficial to the community,” Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said.

“It’s not a good influence,” Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said.

“We already have a problem with the gaming machines, with the themes that they promote,” Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said, explaining that the machines could adversely affect children — a concern shared by Alderman Delores Holmes.

The state passed the law, which allows bars, restaurants and clubs to have up to five machines, two weeks ago in an effort to raise state funds.

Under a tax established by the law, the state gets 25 percent of each machine’s profit, while local governments get 5 percent.

After tax is deducted, half of the remaining profit goes to business owners, and the other half goes to the machine manufacturers.

Video gambling may ultimately harm the city’s economy, said Jeff Smith, president of the Central Street Neighbors Association, in a statement to the council.

“One million dollars spent gambling — one million dollars lost gambling — is one million dollars that can’t be spent on local goods and services in Evanston stores,” he said.

Under the state law, the city council can pass an ordinance to ban video gambling.

Evanston residents could ban it themselves via referendum, which would first require one-fourth of eligible voters to sign a petition.

“There are a lot of things that Evanston needs,” Smith said. “A faster way to separate people from their paycheck isn’t one of them.”

Editors’ Picks