Many of my neighbors have said, “I don’t have a problem with video gambling — it’s the gaudy signs. We don’t want our Madison Street to look like the south side of Roosevelt in Berwyn.” 

The Mayor, and proponents of video gambling, have said, “That won’t be a problem — we’ll amend the Village Code to say there shall be no signage advertising video gambling.” They were at the same meeting I was at, July 12, 2016, where our own well-respected village attorney, Tom Bastion, told all of us that was bull. Here’s his expert legal opinion: “Any regulation of signage has to be content neutral. It is protected by the First Amendment. We cannot single out signage as to ‘video gambling only.’ In any action filed against the village, they would prevail. The Supreme Court has come out recently and made very clear what is permitted, and what is not permitted … but we absolutely cannot single out, whether it’s video gaming, or a drive-thru restaurant, for special regulations, or special restrictions.” 

Listen for yourself. Go toÂ and scroll up to 17:30. Why do we pay a village attorney if we ignore his professional counsel? What’s in place now is a “gentleman’s agreement” with the bar owners: “They don’t put signs up, and it doesn’t get put into Village Code.” 

I’m not normally a betting man, but what will you bet, that in a year or two, if they get their way with video gambling, the signs start to show up? Or that when these bar owners sell, the new owners will realize there’s nothing stopping them from lighting up their Madison Street facades like a low-budget Reno? 

“We’re getting clobbered by Berwyn!” they’ll say. “We have to have signs to level the playing field!” 

We’re not Berwyn. Do you trust this “gentlemen’s agreement”? Vote Yes to restore the prohibition on video gambling in Forest Park. 

Geoff Binns-Calvey 

Forest Park

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