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Rabid bat discovered near Douglas Avenue in Flossmoor

Video game machines at a Homewood establishment. 
(Photo by Eric Crump/HF Chronicle)

Video gambling is coming to Flossmoor.

In a unanimous vote Monday, village board members approved a local ordinance change so that video slot and poker machines, previously prohibited, are permitted in Flossmoor. There was no discussion of the proposed ordinance change at Monday’s meeting and no audience members had comments about the vote. The ordinance change goes into effect immediately.

It was clear, however, that village officials are betting that legalizing the machines will have little effect on Flossmoor. The amended ordinance states that any video gambling must follow state law, which allows the machines in three types of establishments: restaurants or bars with on-premise liquor licenses, truck stops, or fraternal organizations. Flossmoor’s only possible venues for video gambling are three restaurants with liquor licenses, one of which — the “Check Please”-acclaimed Fresh Starts — is unlikely to bring in the machines.

So far, Flossmoor Station Restaurant is the only establishment to request video gambling in the village. Dean Armstrong, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Carolyn, said at the Sept. 8 village board that he would like to replace two existing video games in the bar area with gambling devices.

Armstrong said at that time that he will bring in the new machines only if they are in line with the village’s high standards, which he called “the Flossmoor tradition.” He promised the board that installing the gambling machines would not interfere with his restaurant’s reputation as a family-friendly establishment. Lights and noise from the machines will be muted and little noticed by most patrons at Flossmoor Station, Armstrong said.

State law specifies that only low-stakes gambling is allowed at local establishments. Odds for the machine must be clearly posted. Single wagers are not to exceed 25 cents and there is a $2 limit per hand. Payouts from the machine are not to exceed $500. Persons under the age of 21 are not allowed to play the machines and establishments with video gambling can be fined if that happens. State law allows five gambling terminals in each establishment where they are allowed.

Flossmoor will charge a local fee of $25 for each video gambling device, which is the maximum allowed under Illinois law. It is unlikely that Flossmoor will see any other revenue windfall from the small number of machines that may be coming. Homewood has a total of 30 video gambling machines in six establishments. In the last year, the machines collected $12.54 million in wagers, with about 92 percent of that amount — $11.54 million — returned as payouts. The state and municipality receive revenue based on how much is bet at the machines. The state collected $250,000 in revenue from Homewood’s machines. Homewood received $56,095 in revenues from the machines, which averages out to slightly less than $1,900 per device.

Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun was asked Monday if signs proclaiming video gambling would be allowed outside establishments where it is permitted. At least one business in Homewood has a large sign advertising the machines and such signs are common in other towns.

He said he had not heard about any plans for video gambling signs. Any signs in Flossmoor must conform to local ordinances, he said.

Any signs announcing video gambling “would be discouraged,” Braun said.

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