As early as 2009, 3 years before Fox Lake adopted the 230 ILCS 40 (code for the new video gaming laws), Ed Bender, the then Fox Lake Mayor had seen both sides of the coin regarding the video gaming act. If enacted, he said it might bring the town a bad reputation but at the same time, perhaps it would also attract video gaming enthusiasts from neighboring towns and states where video gambling was illegal. Today, seven years later, video gambling has done more good than harm for Fox Lake and its community. And true to his words, many businesses have sprung up back to their feet. Business data shows that the enactment of this legislation has been good for the whole of Illinois and more local governments are adopting this new law.
By 2012, Fox Lake was waiting for the Illinois Gaming Board to finalize its regulations for the state-run video gaming network so that qualifying business people in the village could apply for their video gaming licenses. Thus, Fox Lake is one of the towns in Illinois that adopted the new video gaming regulations as soon as the law was enacted. How has this affected business in Fox Lake? Many proprietors say they have benefited greatly as we will see later in this article.
At the time, many people thought it was good news – they were right
In 2008, the Illinois smoking ban had gone into effect and it had affected many businesses, with some tavern owners reporting up to 30% less business. However, there was a silver lining in the cloud with the enactment of the 230 ILCS 40 because it would bring back business and compensate the owners for the business they had lost since the smoking ban went into effect.
In a board meeting involving business people and Fox Lake leaders, 10 business people asked the leaders to vote in favor of adopting the new video gaming laws.
But the laws were not accepted from the word go without opposition. Mike Behan, the then Police Chief for Fox Lake had written to the board showing his concerns about the intended adoption of the law. Among his concerns was that legalized video gambling would cause more alcoholism, financial problems in the local families and drunken driving. He was also fearing an increase in embezzlement and fraud cases but he did say that the police would consent to whatever the board voted for.
So, after the adoption of the new video gaming law of Illinois in 2012, has Chief Mike Behan been proved right or has the former mayor been vindicated by an increase in business? All of the evidence available points to the latter. You can confidently conclude that the Fox Lake adoption of the new Illinois video gambling laws was well advised and that it has brought more financial benefits than harm to the locals.
October 2012 to October 2013
The state of Illinois passed the law legalizing video gambling in 2009. Under the new law, fraternal organizations, truck stops, bars, veterans groups and restaurants could set up to 5 terminals in their establishments. They would however have to get a license for each terminal from the Illinois Gaming Board. From 2009, it took a further three years to streamline the regulation but when everything fell into place, Fox Lake was one of the first places to get on the state-run video gaming network, in 2012.
In the first year of approving video gambling licenses in the suburb, the city officials had only budgeted for $12,000 but to their pleasant surprise, the amount of money that video gaming raked in for them was many times more than that, at a handsome $93,338. This revenue was used for funding the Pace Bus program and since then, video gaming revenue has been directed to huge improvements in the village. For a small place like Fox Lake to earn more than $90K in the first year of operation, it shows that there is a lot of potential in video gambling and that is what prompted the licensing authorities to license more establishments to host video gaming terminals.
Fox Lake establishments that have video gaming terminals
Many businesses have enjoyed the benefits of legalized video gambling. One of these businesses is Stella’s Place that offers restaurant services as well as video gaming services. But it is the gaming experience that you will get there that is so outstanding, with more than 40 of video poker games and slots. The beautiful ambience and the good food add to the warmth of the place, attracting more diners and gamers.
It is open every day from 8.00Am to 2.00AM and while it has many items on the menu, gaming is the main course. It is the ideal entertainment place for grownups who want to have a video poker experience to try their luck.
J’s Sports Bar and Grill in Fox Lake has also been a big beneficiary from the proceeds raked in from video gaming. The owner of this establishment once said that video gaming saved the business from closing. Video gaming with voucher payments is now one of the biggest attractions on the J’s Sports Bar menu.
Fox Lake Country Club has 5 gaming terminals, the maximum number that is allowed by the law. The total amount won here is $8,421,675.44 so far. This establishment offers an 18-hole golf course and because it is open to the public, it is a very popular venue for summer vacations and video gaming.
Hidden Point Bar & Grill offers video poker from its three video gambling terminals. This is in accompaniment to some of the tastiest Mexican pork tacos that you will ever taste in the world. The total amount of money won at these three terminals comes up to more than $1.5 million.
There is no doubt that the 2012 decision to allow Fox Lake to get on the state-run video gaming network was a good decision for all parties involved. Business has grown exponentially with some proprietors saying that having video gaming terminals in their establishments saved them from closing down. The local and state governments have also benefitted by getting more revenue to run community programs for the benefit of their citizens. With legalized video gambling in the state of Illinois, more income and better business opportunities have been generated.