With the prospect of legal video gambling going live in bars and restaurants throughout Illinois by early September, local business owners are lining up to get their establishments approved for the machines.
Eleven Brookfield and two North Riverside business owners have applied for the gaming devices to be allowed inside their establishments. And while none has received approval yet, several are closing in on approval.
“We’re thinking September, depending on where we’re at in the order,” said Chris DiBraccio, manager at Brixie’s Saloon on Ogden Avenue in Brookfield. “It’ll be a slow rollout.”
DiBraccio said Brixie’s has one more hurdle to clear, an onsite inspection from the state, before finally being approved for the gaming machines.
The onsite inspection is the only thing remaining at Joe’s Saloon on 47th Street in Brookfield, said owner Ellen Frantzen.
Brixie’s has applied for the state maximum five machines. Joe’s Saloon did not specify a number of machines for that establishment.
In addition to those two businesses, other Brookfield establishments seeking licenses for gaming devices include Brookfield Restaurant, Cordial Inn, Irish Times, Ryan’s Public House, Slager’s, Phil’s Sports Bar and Grill, The Sanctuary, Salt Creek Wine Bar and Blue Water Lounge.
Businesses in North Riverside applying for video gambling licenses include Chef Shangri-La and The Sweet Spot. Three businesses, including P.J. Klem’s, have applied for licenses in Lyons.
In addition, 20 businesses in Berwyn have applied for licenses, with one – Michael Anthony’s Pizzeria – already approved for video gambling.
Brookfield’s village board in April voted to change an ordinance that previously outlawed video gambling in the village. North Riverside followed in June. Riverside continues to forbid video gambling by ordinance.
On July 20, the Illinois Gaming Board announced that its Central Communications System, needed to bring video gambling to the state, was up and running and that “video gambling in Illinois will commence as early as mid- to late-August or early September 2012.”
The gaming board this month is expected to roll out machines in a handful of locations around the state as a pilot program to make sure the interface between the machines and the gaming board’s Centralized Communications System works properly.
By announcing that the system is functional, the gaming board also started the 30-day clock on removing “amusement-only” video gambling machines from Illinois businesses.
With the introduction of the legal gambling machines, all other “amusement-only” video gambling devices – the ones that have the ability to award credits – will be outlawed in the state.
The state has estimated that video gambling could result in a revenue boom for business owners and municipalities alike. Businesses, it’s estimated, could make up to $8,000 per year per machine, while municipalities could derive as much as $2,200 per machine per year.
That means a business with the maximum of five machines could be in line to receive up to $40,000 in additional revenue. A village like Brookfield, which has the potential right now to have 55 such machines in local establishments, could collect upwards of $120,000 in additional revenue.
DiBraccio said he’s “skeptical” of the revenue projections.
“They’re talking $8,000 per game, but I don’t know if that’s true,” DiBraccio said. “We’re going to give them a try and see how they are. I don’t think it’s going to be the bulk of the business. Some people think that, but I don’t think it’s the case.”
Frantzen said she’s also unsure just how much the machines will help her business. They may attract new customers, she said, which would also boost food and drink sales. Until the machines begin to show up, she has no way of knowing.
“It’s a crap shoot; you don’t know,” she said. “But anything’s a plus.”
Brookfield officials are taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to potential revenues from video gambling. Village Manager Riccardo Ginex said he won’t be adding a line item to the 2013 budget predicting revenues from gambling.
“I think we’re going to be ultra-conservative on this and see what happens next year,” said Ginex. “We’re not really putting a specific line item in there.”