If you’re a senior citizen who has lunched in the Cathy Colgrass Edwards Café inside Brookfield Elks Lodge #1510, or you’ve attended one of their bingo events, you may have noticed the handful of video gaming terminals at the lodge.
They’ve been a nice source of revenue for the Elks since being installed in May 2015, bringing in almost $50,000 for the fraternal organization. The village’s share of gaming taxes during that time has been around $7,000.
The trouble is, Brookfield trustees learned at their meeting on Aug. 27, is that the Elks never applied for or received local licenses for their four gaming terminals, something businesses and organizations are required to do by village ordinance.
It wasn’t until a village official just happened to be at an event at the Elks lodge earlier this year that the village learned about the snafu.
“We haven’t had one come up after the fact before this,” said Village President Kit Ketchmark.
At first, said Ketchmark, he was unsure whether the village would have to shut down the gaming operation at the lodge. However, they later learned that the state doesn’t require a local license before issuing their video gambling license, that the lodge had a valid gaming license from the state and that the village was getting its proper share of the taxes from the machines.
Ketchmark said officials from the Elks club, apparently unaware of the local licensing requirement, went ahead and installed the machines.
Elks Club President Robert Rolewicz confirmed that he and other club officials were unaware of the local licensing requirement, saying he assumed the video gambling machine vendor would have been up to speed on that front.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” Rolewicz said.
Establishments with video gambling must pay $25 for a license to be a video gambling location and then $25 for each video gambling terminal it operates.
The village has missed out on a few hundred dollars as a result of the oversight, but Ketchmark said it’s unlikely the village will seek to recover that amount. Ketchmark said he was unsure whether the village would seek the fees for 2018 or simply begin charging the lodge for the licenses in 2019.
One thing the village must do, in order for its municipal code to reflect reality, is for trustees on Sept. 10 to vote to create a new video gambling license, which Ketchmark, as the village’s liquor commissioner, will award to the Elks lodge.
In order to avoid a similar issue in the future, said Ketchmark, the village may provide information about local video gambling license requirements to businesses annually as part of the business license renewal process.
“We’re still learning with all of these,” said Ketchmark.
Rolewicz said the machines have provided an important source of revenue to help defray utility costs, which have risen since the introduction of the senior café, which is part of the Community Nutrition Network, a nonprofit organization that provides free meals (or seniors can pay a suggested donation) to about 60 seniors onsite daily and more than 300 meals on wheels.
“The machines pretty well offset those costs,” Rolewicz said of the income from video gambling. “As long as we can keep doing the things we’re doing and support the community.”
This story has been clarify how the Community Nutrition Network’s senior meals program works at the Brookfield Elks Lodge. According to Spencer Harstead, director operations for the Community Nutrition Network, the organization, “The meals we serve only have an associated suggested donation. If someone is unable or unwilling to pay, they will not be denied a meal. We are not allowed to charge for a meal for an eligible 60+ client.”