Tinley Park officials have formally voted to allow video gambling machines in the village despite objections raised by some who said gambling isn't right for the town.
Village trustees Greg Hannon, Brian Maher, Tom Staunton, Patricia Leoni and T.J. Grady voted to unanimously pass an ordinance Jan. 7 allowing video gambling machines at local establishments with liquor licenses.
Under the ordinance, establishments with liquor licenses that sell alcohol on the premises will be permitted to license up to five machines per establishment.
The village will receive 5 percent of the revenue for each machine installed, officials said. Village officials also said that a "conservative estimate" of revenue generated for the village will be between $180,000 and $300,000.
Several individuals addressed the village board before the vote. Resident William Beckman said video gambling is not family-friendly and isn't the right way to gain revenue for either Tinley Park or the state of Illinois.
Anti-gambling activist Kathy Gilroy of Villa Park brought up a recent controversy involving Mayor Ed Zabrocki's declaration that MTV reality show 16 and Pregnant would not be welcome in town to make her point against video gambling.
"I applaud Mayor Zabrocki for his comment that filming 16 and Pregnant in town would, quote, send the wrong message, and discouraging businesses from allowing filming," Gilroy told trustees. "You are now being confronted with an even worse proposal: slot machines all over town."
There were also speakers who spoke in favor of the measure at the meeting. Bill Conner, the local VFW Commander, said the resolution would allow civic organizations like his to return more money to the community.
Bob Shaffner, former commander of American Legion Post 615, asked the board to pass the ordinance "because the veteran's organizations in town have lost a lot of business to the establishments that are outside of our community who do have the slot machines."
In a memo released by the village, Police Chief Steve Neubauer said he has "no law enforcement basis to oppose video gaming" after talking with chiefs in other communities about their experiences.
"Although I did not keep a comprehensive list of the communities, none of the chiefs reported any law enforcement issues with video gaming," Neubauer wrote. Many chiefs also said gambling "has been financially good for their villages."
Trustee Dave Seaman, finance chairman, was absent at the meeting but explained in an interview that Tinley Park is put at a competitive disadvantage when other towns allow video gambling machines and Tinley doesn't.
State law allowing video gambling forces the village's hand, according to Seaman.
"For better or worse, the horse is out of the barn, so to speak," Seaman said.
He said he is not personally a fan of gambling and added that village officials will watch closely to monitor machine operators.
It will take about six to nine months for local establishments to get licensed and install the machines, officials said.