Buffalo Grove’s Countryline Tavern “looking into” video slots
About 30 miles north-west of the Chicago Loop lies the suburban village of Buffalo Grove, a peacefully affluent community known for its historic architecture, the Raupp Museum and the annual Buffalo Grove Invitational Fine Arts Festival that attracts an estimated 30,000 visitors each year. Thanks to a recent vote among city council, it’s latest claim to fame is the option for local business owners to install video slots as an added form of entertainment for patrons.
For the last 7 years, the subject of gambling was a sore one in the Chicago suburb. Back in 2009, the Council chose to ban gambling on video slots throughout the village. Several nearby suburbs like Long View, however, chose to licensing restaurants and bars to host video gambling terminals, and after witnessing a throng of new businesses opening in those areas, it seems Buffalo Grove decided it was time to get in the game.
At a meeting of the Village Board on April 18, trustees voted to abolish the 7-year ban on the gambling devices. Restaurant and bar managers like Tod Barber of Countryline Tavern can now apply for a license to install the newly permitted gaming machines.
The video slots look and play just like traditional slot machines, but are in some ways akin to the video gaming consoles beloved by children and young adults across the nation. Unlike the slots in Vegas, where each cabinet is imbued with a single game, these video gambling devices have a start menu screen that allows players to select from a wide range of video games to play for real money, with the chance to win real cash prizes.
Essentially, each player has access to a small casino worth of slot machines on a single console.
Video Slots seen as a Business Opportunity
After being staunchly opposed to gambling in Buffalo Grove for so long, Village Board member Chris Stilling admitted that their sudden change of heart was purely business.
“We want to look at it as an opportunity to capture full-service restaurants,” said Stilling.
The choice to license or prohibit video slots came about in 2009 when lawmakers in Illinois chose to authorize the devices. It took some time for the Illinois Gaming Board to establish the rules for the new system, but once they did, individual municipalities were given the right to vote on whether they wanted the machines in their communities.
IGB data shows that in Lake County, where the majority of Buffalo Grove is situated (about one-fourth is located in Cook County), 23 of the areas 47 municipalities are already receptive to the video gambling devices.
By law, each restaurant that applies for a license to install the machines must have a food service area and a current liquor license. Each establishment is able to house a maximum of 5 video slots, and their main source of revenue must come from food service sales.
Revenue is segregated with 25% going to the state of Illinois, 5% to the respective municipality, and just under 1% to fund systems management. The remainder of the revenue is split between the business owner and the company that operates the video slots.