Geneseo Puts Video Gaming On Ballot; Others Already Rolling Dice - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Geneseo Puts Video Gaming On Ballot; Others Already Rolling Dice

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Video gambling is now up and running across the state of Illinois. It's a long-anticipated start for some local establishments, but there are many areas across the state still deciding on whether or not to allow it.

Geneseo voters will see this question on the November 6th ballot: Should video gaming be prohibited in the city of Geneseo? The city is one of more than 500 communities and counties across Illinois that hasn't decided yet if it wants to roll the dice on video gaming. Hundreds of others are getting the gaming underway.

So far 633 communities and counties in Illinois have ordinances that allow video gambling. It's prohibited in 311 cities and counties. For Geneseo, the decision starts with a poll of the people. "It's about the paradigm shift this is and giving our constituents a voice," said Mayor Linda Van Der Leest.

The referendum on video gambling is opinion question only. City council members would be allowed to vote against public opinion, if so inclined. "It's a different way of thinking. A different way you'd go about doing business to have video gaming in the city," added Van Der Leest.

Residents are starting to weigh the potential positives and negatives. "Drawbacks are people that get their checks and spend everything," said Carol Washburn, "I'm sure they could use it for road projects. The schools definitely could use it."

In Silvis, customers at Avenue Tap are the first in the Illinois Quad Cities area to place their bets on the video terminals. There are five machines up and running since Tuesday. "I think people are excited, it's bring customers back in," said Mary Rickertsen, trying her hand at video gaming.

In Rock Island, City Limits Saloon & Grill will soon have its system up and running. Four more machines are expected that will add to the one the establishment has now, but hasn't been turned on. Owner Bob Anderson says a massive expansion to accommodate was among several changes that are coming with the video gambling. "Something entertaining. We'll be staying open until one o'clock every night now where we used to close at 10:30 or 11," said Anderson. "It's been a long wait."

Video gambling machines have been activated in 65 bars, restaurants, and other locations so far, with a total of 278 game terminals. The Illinois Gaming Board has 341 licenses approved and is processing more than 2,600 others.

Illinois approved video gambling in 2009 to help fund a $31 billion construction program to fix schools, roads, and other transportation projects. After you cash out the state pulls in 25 percent, the municipality takes 5 percent, and the establishment and game operators each get a 35 percent cut.