Video gaming has been legal for a couple of years in Oak Lawn bringing in approximately half a million dollars a year in gaming tax revenue for the village with apparently no crimes directly tied to video gaming.
A review of police incident reports provided to the Oak Lawn Leaf indicates that not one arrest has been made regarding criminal activity and video gaming. Despite that fact, some residents in Oak Lawn have voiced opposition to video gaming and some municipalities throughout the State of Illinois “opted out” of video gaming effectively banning it in their communities over a perceived idea that gaming results in crime.
One reader commented this week about the story on revenue earned by the village with a common sentiment. The reader wrote, “ Also brought scum of the Earth to Oak Lawn.. So Thanks.. Really..”
In fact, several proprietors of video gaming operations in the village told the Oak Lawn Leaf that video gaming has been enjoyed by their current clients and has not increased traffic from other areas. The most successful gaming operations in Oak Lawn have been Stella’s, Penny’s, Les Brothers and Jedi Garden. The first two entities cater to women in a cafe setting. Les Brothers and Jedi Garden customers tend to be local seniors and “mature” adults according to our own review of the operations.
One licensee, who owns a bar, told us that his customer base is “almost entirely from Oak Lawn” and he doesn’t think that video gaming has brought “scummy” people to Oak Lawn. “If you ask the police, you’ll find that there aren’t any incidents regarding video gaming so I’m not sure where that perception comes from,” he said.
Franchise or national chain operations, such as Hooters only earned $356 in March for the village in taxes. The more successful operations earned about ten times that amount in tax revenue for the village. Hooters only had about $150,000 wagered while Jedi’s, for instance, had over $825,000 wagered in March.
While crime has increased in Oak Lawn there does not appear to be any cases in which police were called to the video gaming operations.