Video gambling has been prohibited in Oak Park for nearly a decade, and now the so-called video sweepstakes machines are forbidden in the village as well.
The Oak Park Board of Trustees approved an ordinance at its Nov. 19 meeting, expressly prohibiting the machines, stating in the ordinance that keeping them out of Oak Park is necessary for the “public health, safety and welfare” of the community.
The concern comes from sweepstakes machines appearing in and around the city of Chicago. The machines are similar to video gambling machines, but the winners receive a ticket, which is then redeemed at a counter for cash.
Spin City, 6522 W. North Ave., is among the closest sweepstakes machine sites to Oak Park, located on the Chicago side of North Avenue.
Oak Park Village Manager Cara Pavlicek told trustees at the meeting that the sweepstakes machine ordinance was introduced over concerns about loopholes in the law that are being taken advantage of by businesses in neighboring communities.
Judith Alexander, chair of the community group The North Avenue District (T-NAD), said her organization, which advocates for business development on North Avenue, strongly supports the prohibition.
“These machines exploit a gray area of Illinois law, unlike standard video gambling they pay no taxes and anyone can install them – no licensing is required,” she said.
She called them a “likely, but preventable Oak Park problem.”
“We think it’s only a matter of time before these machines show up on North Avenue and elsewhere in the village,” she said.
Trustee Jim Taglia said he went to Spin City to investigate the establishment and said, “It’s just like a casino.”
“You walk in there, you put your money in the machine, not that I did that (he joked), and if you win, not that I won, you go get your money at the counter,” he said.
He said gambling in “encircling Oak Park at the present, and right now we’re like an island, and I want to keep it that way.”
Trustee Deno Andrews said he tends to be more Libertarian about businesses opening in the village, but said he opposes video gambling and sweepstakes machines.
“This type of gambling exploits people, it tears apart families and I don’t want any part of it in our village,” he said.
The ordinance comes about a month after voters in the village of Forest Park banned video gambling machines from that municipality through a referendum.