By Bob Uphues
Riverside residents on March 20 reaffirmed what they have expressed vocally over the past two years on the subject of video gambling, with 76 percent voting to prohibit it via an advisory referendum on the primary ballot.
With all eight precincts reporting, unofficial totals showed that in response to the question "Should the village of Riverside allow video gambling?" the anti-gambling vote topped the "yes" vote by 2,069 to 652.
While the referendum won't ensure that the subject will never surface again in Riverside, the result sends a certain message to village leaders, said Cristin Evans, one of a core group of video gambling opponents who pushed hard for the "no" vote.
"The message is clear," Evans said. "The community does not think video gambling is right for the village."
Evans said she hoped the result would inform future decisions on the subject by the village board.
"However, it is non-binding, so ultimately it'll be left to future boards, and that's something people need to think about."
Evans said that there has been some discussion about whether or not video gambling opponents ought to seek a binding referendum, but that's not likely, at least in the short term.
"It's a tall order," Evans said of the petition process to get a binding question on the ballot. "Hopefully, it won't come to that."
Riverside President Ben Sells, who has publicly said he does not favor video gambling, said he hoped the advisory vote would be an end to speculation on the future of gaming in the village.
"The video gambling referendum served its purpose by providing our residents a direct voice on this issue," Sells said. "I am glad that we can now focus our attention on opportunities that lie ahead for our village."