OL narrowly votes to allow video gambling in fast food restaurant
Oak Lawn trustees put their cards on the table Tuesday night during a debate about the future of video gaming in the village.
The approval of a liquor license for another Oak Lawn restaurant planning to add video poker machines sparked the debate with at least one trustee saying the village must determine where to draw the line.
Trustee Terry Vorderer voted against a liquor license request submitted by Big Pappa’s Gyros, 10806 S. Cicero Ave., saying that he did not favor video poker machines in fast food restaurants.
Trustees approved the liquor license request by a 3-2 vote. Trustee Mike Carberry, whose 6th District includes the restaurant, also voted against the license. Trustee Bob Streit did not attend the meeting.
“I have no problem with the machines in legitimate establishments that have been around for a long time but not in the fast food restaurants,” Vorderer said.
Trustee Tim Desmond agreed that the village needs to consider limits for video gambling.
“Terry is correct. We do have to draw the line somewhere,” Desmond said.
Trustee Carol Quinlan said the village has no choice but to approve the gambling.
“The bottom line is, it’s legal,” Quinlan said.
Village attorney Paul O’Grady said state Sen. Bill Cunningham is drafting legislation that would give municipalities greater control over video gambling, including the ability to restrict it to certain parts of town.
“It is not just here in Oak Lawn but it’s an issue across the state. Everybody is sort of struggling with it,” O’Grady said.
Big Pappa’s owner Sandi DiGangi said she was seeking a liquor license so she could add video gambling and potentially expand her business.
DiGangi is well-known in the village after serving and delivering holiday meals to the needy and seniors on Christmas for the past four years.
DiGangi said she plans to sell bottled beer and wine coolers at her restaurant, which has been in Oak Lawn for five years.
Vorderer said after the meeting that his primary concern was “where do we draw the line?”
He said he also was concerned with preserving the village’s image and preventing a “proliferation of gambling.” Additionally, he said he was worried about the machines leading to gambling addiction for some people.
“I’m not trying to be moralistic about gambling,” he said.
Vorderer agreed that the machines generate some income for the village.
In fact, the village receives about $20,000 a month from the video gaming. The village receives 5 percent of gaming receipts while the state gets 25 percent and business owner and terminal operator each get 35 percent.
Approximately 20 Oak Lawn businesses have video gambling and split about $408,000 in revenue a month, Mayor Sandra Bury said.
Bury said the issues associated with video gaming are difficult. She said video gaming at a local business is different than allow gaming cafes, which exist solely for gambling.
She added that the state’s gaming legislation is “so insufficient” because it does not let communities restrict the number of licenses or the location of machines.
“The law is really inadequate,” said Bury, who added that she fears the long-term social consequences associated with gaming.