A group of Forest Park residents took the next step toward giving voters a stake in determining whether video gambling should be allowed in the village.

Patrick Jacknow, one of about 30 residents leading a petition drive to get the issue on the November ballot, said he and other organizers met at Forest Park Village Hall at 11:30 a.m., Aug. 8 to file the 2,939 signatures they were able to collect to make it happen. To put a binding referendum on the ballot, the group had to get at least 25 percent of registered voters in the village to sign the petition — or 2,304 residents — which they surpassed.

Jacknow believes their signatures will probably be challenged, but he thinks they have a big enough cushion of signatures to secure a binding referendum on the ballot. The village board would also have to vote to approve putting the referendum on the ballot as well.

Over the past several months the issue of whether to have video gambling in the village has created heated concern and debate, with both the village and private citizens organizing separate forums on the issue and residents putting signs opposing the idea in their windows and on their front lawns. Bar and bar/restaurant owners in the village have lobbied as well, saying that allowing video gambling would make their businesses more competitive with similar businesses in surrounding villages that already have it. They contend that their businesses are suffering as a result.

Jacknow, who owns his own real estate business in the village, said the bars and bar/restaurants were here before video gambling and not having video gambling shouldn’t make much difference.

“They need to look at their business model again,” he said. “There was no gambling when they came here.”

If the referendum gets on the ballot, Jacknow and his supporters hope voters come out against it. He said some who were in favor of video gambling signed the petition saying putting the issue to a vote was the right thing to do.

“They said, ‘I’d like to see it voted on because that’s our process,'” Jacknow noted. “I didn’t encounter one negative person.”

Bar owners hope residents will reach out to them to get their point of view on the issue if the issue ends up on the ballot.

Aug. 15 is the last day to file objections to referendum signatures. Aug. 22 is the last day for the village council to vote to allow a binding referendum on the ballot. The next village council meeting is Aug. 22. 

Sept. 1 is the deadline for the Cook County Clerk to certify a referendum for the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

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