The Village of Oak Lawn Board of Trustees, after seeing a whopping 172% increase in video gaming during Mayor Sandra Bury’s term thus far, voted unanimously to define Video Gaming Cafes in an effort to prevent new operations such as “Stella’s” from opening in the village.
The Illinois Video Gaming Act allows any establishment with a “pour” liquor license to apply for a video gaming license. Once a business has such a local liquor license, the State has no authority to deny the video gaming license. Since Bury began her term in office in 2013, gaming licenses have increased from 14 to 38 according to the State of Illinois Gaming Board records. In the last 12 month period on file with the State of Illinois, the Village of Oak Lawn has received $513,670.81 in revenue from video gaming.
The three most profitable gaming establishments during the same 12 month period would probably all be considered “gaming cafes” under the new ordinance and prohibited in the future. Of the $513,670.81 in revenue received by the Village, $43,163.18 came from Stella’s, $39,177.73 was received from Penny’s and $32,962.75 was received from Avenue Flower Shop. None of the establishments has had any police reports for crimes at the establishments, during the time they’ve been in business. Stella’s, Penny’s and Avenue Flower Shop cater to a female crowd interested in video gaming in an atmosphere removed from the tavern crowds.
The ordinance, which is entitled “Video Gaming Cafes” provides power to the Mayor, as Liquor Commissioner, to determine if an establishment is a “video gaming cafe”. The factors that are considered in making that determination are listed in the ordinance as:
- The layout and design of the establishment
- The preparation and variety of food and beverages offered
- The absence of a full service kitchen
- The number of video gaming machines relative to customer seating capacity of the establishment
- The square footage of space devoted to video gaming relative to the amount of space devoted to other activities
- The source of proposed or actual revenue derived from the establishment
- The number of employees at the establishment and their proposed function
- Any other factors as determined as relevant by the liquor commissioner.
During Bury’s term liquor stores, such as Cardinal Liquors and Gennaro Liquors have received “pour” licenses that allowed video gaming. A Gyro fast food restaurant also received a liquor license that allowed video gaming. None of the existing establishments would be affected by the ordinance.
Mayor Bury predicted that the ordinance would become a “model” for other communities. She had predicted previously that the village’s ethics ordinance would also become a “model ordinance” but it has not been adopted elsewhere, with other communities relying on the State Ethics Act.