Illinois: Ban on video gambling at bars, restaurants divides Des Plaines’ aldermen candidates

A ban on video gambling at local bars and restaurants has divided Des Plaines’ aldermanic candidates. While some say they are open to ending the embargo, others oppose allowing businesses to install the machines due to the potential impact they could have on Rivers Casino’s revenue. 

Residents in four wards will choose representatives for the next four years in the April 4 election. The eight candidates discussed video gambling and other issues in online interviews with The Daily Herald. 

Illinois lawmakers legalized video gambling at bars, restaurants, truck stops and fraternal organizations in 2009. However, governments can decide whether the machines should be allowed in their communities, as many of the towns around Des Plaines do.

Illinois video gambling put $786 million into the state’s coffers in 2022 and $135.5 million into participating municipalities’ accounts. Meanwhile, open since 2011, Rivers generated about $11.5 million for the city in 2022, according to officials.

Incumbent Martin J. “Colt” Moylan is being challenged by Earl Wilson in the 2nd Ward, which covers part of Des Plaines’ east side. Moylan is against legalizing video gambling in town, pointing out that Rivers Casino “provides enough gaming opportunities.” Wilson stated he is open to video gambling in a limited fashion, as it could “appeal to a separate unique consumer base and may not directly compete with Rivers Casino.”

Incumbent Artur Zadrozny is being challenged by former Alderman Dick Sayad in the 4th Ward, which covers part of Des Plaines’ west side. Zadrozny said he would vote against the legalization of video gambling, as he does not like them in spaces such as restaurants, where he has to explain to his children what they are.

Sayad said he would vote in favor of allowing video gaming throughout Des Plaines as long as it does not affect the city’s development deal with Rivers. However, he doubts gambling machines would attract customers to the city’s restaurants or bars. 

Former Alderman Mark Walsten and former Des Plaines School District 62 board member Brian Inzerello are facing off in the 6th Ward, which is on the southeast side. Inzerello said the council should end the gambling ban. Inzerello said the council should end the gambling ban, while Walsten said he would like the city to study how expanded video gambling would affect Rivers’ revenue. If the impact is minimal, he would support allowing the machines throughout town.

Incumbent Shamoon Ebrahimi faces former Alderman Michael Charewicz in the 8th Ward, which is on Des Plaines’ southwest side. Ebrahimi said he is a video gambling fan but would vote against allowing it in Des Plaines because he doesn’t want to jeopardize the city’s relationship with Rivers.

Charewicz said he’d also vote against lifting the ban, even though he knows restaurateurs and tavern owners would love the machines. “I don’t want to upset Rivers,” he said.