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Plainfield pro-video gaming pushed

Brock A. Stein | 2/10/2016, 7:52 p.m.
Proponents of video gaming in Plainfield took their case to the village board for a third time Monday night.

Proponents of video gaming in Plainfield took their case to the village board for a third time Monday night.

Since passing its ban on the video gambling machines in 2012, the village has considered arguments for changing course twice before, most recently in 2015.

Jay Darnell, owner of T-Bird Liquors in Plainfield, argued that due to overlapping boundary lines that include the Plainfield Park District, the local school district, and unincorporated Will County, and Plainfield Township, residents don’t have to travel far to spend their money at an establishment with the devices.

"One could make the argument that it's in the village already" said Darnel who was speaking on behalf of a consortium of local business owners who support a change in the ban.

Those local businesses include Nevins’s Brewing Co., Katie O’Connor’s, Fox's Restaurant and Pub, Aurelio’s Pizza, Tap House Grill, Uptown Tap, Moe Joe’s, Hop Scotch and Vine, Front Street Cantina, Plainfield Lanes, Penalty Box, and Plainfield Moose Lodge.

The village originally passed a ban on the video gaming machines in August of 2012 with many trustees citing statistics that show the machines take money from the very poorest members of society and calling the games a “regressive” tax.

Despite the village’s ban, the American Legion Marne Post #13 at 24741 W. Renwick Road in unincorporated Plainfield Township had five machines installed in 2013.

Darnell said that video gambling is an add on expense much like purchasing a lotto ticket is for his customers. It something that they purchase in addition to whatever else they came in to his store to buy.

“It's more of an entertainment dollar,” he said.

Darnell said that about 50% of his customers will add a lottery ticket to their purchase but that the sales make up only about 2% of his revenue. However, he noted, that if he didn’t sell the tickets customers would eventually find places where they could purchase both items in one stop.

That’s what he’s afraid will happen with video gambling machines as they become more ubiquitous in nearby municipalities.

“They become a force that drives your core business,” he said of lottery sales and what he believes will happen with video gambling.

“There are many other things that you have to do to be successful,” he said, “but they have become one of the forces.”

“Do you want to support the local businesses and give them the products they feel they need to compete on a level playing field,” he asked the board.

Trustee Ed O’Rourke, who was elected to the board in 2015, said that he was “conflicted” about the issue and leaned towards allowing adults to “make their own decisions” about whether to play the games. He noted his support for giving business owners the tools to compete especially being "surrounded by towns that have it."

He said he would be open to allowing the machines in existing businesses but didn’t want to throw open the doors to new businesses as well and attract places like video gambling cafes.