There is currently a lot of talk in Forest Park about video gaming. This has created tremendous hard feelings between many businesses in our village. Please hear our side.

First, we are deeply offended that our fellow retail owners so openly attack our segment of business. They advance the claim that gaming will hurt their businesses and subsequently our village. However, they offer no proof. The village forum featured the economic development director from Westmont. He clearly stated that gaming businesses co-exist seamlessly with other businesses. The chief of police of Brookfield explained that officials from 19 other villages report no problems with gaming. When researching gaming restaurants/pubs there are no problems. The lack of evidence on this issue is not one of underreporting, as it is clear that no problems exist.

Second, it appears that the largest opposition to gaming is tied to the distaste for gaming parlors (Dottie’s) and signage. No one in our town wants gaming parlors in Forest Park, including us. There is a simple, legal way to ban them. The village could require licensees to derive 60 percent of their revenue from food and beverage, or they could require that no new licensee be granted gaming until the third year of operation. 

The other large issue is signage. Again, we agree with our opposition. Other villages restrict signs. Long Grove has gaming but no signage. They have done this by ordinance. We can do the same. Is it possible that an ordinance restricting outside signage to a business’ primary function is both legal and will restrict gaming signage? Let’s find out together.

Third, we are losing business and so many businesses to neighboring towns. This hurts our local tax base, making everyone’s taxes higher and forcing the village to reduce services. Gaming will quickly create millions of dollars in new taxable revenue. In addition to sales tax, the business portion of property taxes will increase as empty buildings, like Brian Boru’s, are filled.

We are completely offended by the way petitions are presented. The petitioners continue to tell people that the referendum is a vote to affirm or deny gaming. It is not. It is a vote that has only one possible outcome, to continue the prohibition of video gaming. Don’t be deceived. Only the village council can approve gaming. The petition is distributed solely by individuals who favor banning gaming.

Out of respect for our village, we chose to not clutter lawns and windows with pro-gaming signs. We feel that the duly elected council should hear all sides and make an educated decision. We also think that the positive experience of a thousand other municipalities should weigh in our favor. 

Now if the petitioners want to circumvent this process, please do so truthfully. Please tell potential signers that your intent is to pass a referendum that can only continue to ban gaming. Understand, if the petition fails, gaming is still illegal. It is this deception that causes scars in the business community that may permanently divide us. If you have been deceived by a petitioner, please contact another petitioner or email to get your name removed. We believe that the circulators will do the right thing.

We love the town that we chose to invest our life savings in. We look forward to ending the division that the anti-gaming group created and getting back to being the great town that we know we can be.

Alicia Sandoval, Patrick O’Brien, Mark Hosty, Terry Healy, Julie Shea, Frank Kevil, Ted Hosty, Marty Sorice, Lynn Sorice, Mike Sullivan, Pat Malone, Mike Bigane, Matt Sullivan, Jon Winfert, Kate Hire, Don Ashcraft, Jim Buckley, Dennis Miller, Pat Fleming, Chris Fleming, Matt Mathey, Lisa Mathey, Carole Smith, Ron Milchoeffer, and Jim Watts

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