Video gaming authorized to expand in Homewood

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Video gaming authorized to expand in Homewood

June 24, 2020 - 14:51
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More businesses will be allowed to have gambling machines in Homewood after the village board passed a new ordinance Tuesday. 

Any bars or restaurants that have been in the village for at least four years and already hold liquor licenses can now apply for video gaming machines.

Homewood has six businesses with video gaming machines. The new ordinance would allow for nine more.

Trustee Barbara Dawkins said she doesn’t gamble but voted for the measure to help local restaurants, citing the lack of revenue during the shutdown and increased expenses for safety measures. 

“I have to look at what is going to benefit our village. We’re lucky enough to have diverse restaurants and they’ve been hard-hit,” Dawkins said. “Drastic times call for drastic measures. Some of the restaurants on the list, I don’t even foresee them implementing this. It’s just another option for them.”

The ordinance is the latest in a series of moves the village has made in an attempt to help local businesses recover from the COVID-19 shutdown. In April, Homewood suspended collection of its places for eating tax for three months. Outdoor seating for restaurants and bars was expanded last month.

“Gaming already exists in Homewood. We’re just giving other businesses the option,” Trustee Lauren Roman said. “We want them to have everything at their fingertips to succeed.” 

Comments from several residents who opposed increased gambling were read into the record, including by Redbird Cafe owner Kim Nolen. The comments suggested it would create a “seedy” or “less desirable” environment in Homewood businesses.

“I really don’t feel like (gaming machines have) detracted from the experiences I’ve had in the restaurants and/or bars that have them,” Trustee Jay Heiferman said. “I think everyone needs whatever help they can get to survive. I think those that put it in, in the wrong spot or to create the wrong atmosphere, that will be their issue to deal with. I hope everyone just uses the new restrictions wisely.”