First off, let’s take a look at who really profits from video gaming in Forest Park and the rest of the state, according to Illinois Gaming Board records, which you can access at http://www.igb.illinois.gov/VideoReports.aspx. 

Between October 2016 and this month so far, a report generated at this site found that gamblers at five Forest Park bars lost a total of $36,027. The owners of those five bars listed in the Gaming Board’s records and the owners of gaming machines took home $25,219, which the bar owners and gaming machine operators divide, generally 50-50 as a rule. The state of Illinois made $9,007. The Village of Forest Park received $1,801. 

I give this breakdown so you can see who really profits from video gaming — and who loses. 

So now to my second point, this one regarding the mail-in ballot I just received for the April election: It contains this question: “Should the Village of Forest Park use the estimated $200,000 in future annual video gaming license revenue to lower property taxes on residents?” 

My answer is “No.” What I — and many, many others — want is for video gaming to leave town to prevent further deterioration of our community. Why were we not given the chance to vote on that? Who blocked us from having that say, and why? (The above breakdown in profits may help answer the latter questions.) If the village really will bring in $200,000 annually on video gaming — and that remains to be seen — what good are lower property taxes when home values flounder as our community and business district continue to deteriorate? 

Keep in mind that $200,000 divided by the number of taxpaying households comes out to a very low amount — perhaps a reduction in property taxes as low as $25 to $50 per household per year. Does that make video gaming worth it to you? 

The short-term thinking of our council is maddening. The concerted efforts to block our democratic right to have a say — and to instead leave us with largely meaningless ballot questions to answer — is just plain wrong, not to mention fueled by greed. 

I want to live in a vibrant community with a business district that is diverse and vital — not the Forest Park of old, known only for its strip of bars. How does preventing voters from having their say build community? The answer is: It doesn’t. 

P.S. I would encourage the Forest Park Review to print a monthly running tally of video gaming profits in the village to help residents track what’s going on.

Martha Irvine 

Forest Park 

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