It took years for Forest Park voters to finally succeed in getting a straight-up vote on whether video gaming should be allowed to continue in the village’s bars and restaurants. The political process conspired to block a vote, certain conflicted politicians piled logs in front of ballot access process, big money from outside gaming backers tried to swamp the vote and still, and still by a narrow vote, Forest Parkers tossed video gaming out.
Now there is a different version of the same old gaming nonsense and it is seeping into town through various cracks in the regulatory and legal system.
Called sweepstakes machines, these are in almost every aspect video gaming machines. Maybe after a few free spins you need to start pumping money in. And after you lose most of it, you can redeem your pennies in either cash or merchandise. It’s got similarities to Chuck E. Cheese for grown-ups except without the crappy pizza.
Unless a town takes direct action, and Forest Park ought to take such action, these machines are legal and completely unregulated. The village gets not a nickel out of this scam.
So far while a handful of local bars have installed the machines, other bar owners — we hope out of some respect for voters — have not. You are more likely to find sweepstakes machines in Forest Park gas stations at the moment.
Right now Mayor Rory Hoskins is trying to identify placement of all the machines and determining if proprietors have paid the modest cost of a village amusement tax. That’s fine. We’d rather see the village council proceed directly to a full-tilt ban on sweepstakes machines in Forest Park.