By Sharon Daly
Spent a couple of hours in front of Ed's Way (may they prosper forever!) yesterday passing out reminders about the Video Gambling (VG) presentation tonight.* Folks are intrigued.
Only one couple was sure of their stance on the issue (pro) while the rest were in a thoughtful muddle. Here's how is went:
- I'd like to support the bars/restaurants but…
- If it brings $$ into the village then it's a good thing! But…
- We've spent 15 years building Madison as a boutique/family friendly destination and not sure we should screw around with it…
- The $$ is going to be spent somewhere, so it might as well be here. But…
I know the feeling. This VG thing is a step into the unknown, a shot in the dark – with projected upsides vs documented, but not perfectly aligned damages. Illinois only started this mid-October and so VG only has a couple of months of local anecdotes.
The Pro folks dismiss the possible damages as overwrought mommy-ism, but is there such a thing as gambling-lite? Is VG really just something to do while watching the football game? The math (potential profits) on all this is fuzzy because it's projected – what is a reasonable net for the village? What does the police department think about this possible venture?
Eh, I'm rambling. I believe the presentation tonight will answer the questions most of us share, offering three presenters and (I'm guessing) a rollicking Q&A period. Our electeds are very interested in your informed position on this issue.
* Again, the meeting tonight (Thursday) is an informational pros/cons on video gambling. 7pm at St. Peters (SE corner of Hannah and Adams) and sponsored by Citizens United in Forest Park (and I presently sit on the board.)
Last night was a great meeting: a substantive start to understanding all positions within a notable colleagial atmostphere. Yes, we can.
The presenters certainly did their jobs well. Tim Lattner stressed the strong state regulations around this budding industry, Kathy Gilroy had the data to support her position that VG does not serve the greater good, and Stan Zegel provided a sort of Renaissance Man balance and asked us all, "How does Forest Park want to think of itself? Does VG fit into the image we want to own and project to the rest of the world?" A solid hat tip to moderator Steve Bachman for setting a warm but professional tone and getting us out of there in just over two hours.
About 60-70 folks were in the audience, including a contingent of bar owners - all of whom handled themselves graciously. Well, yes, it took about an hour for all to realize no one was 'out to get' each other and then a palpable atmosphere of trust and generosity began to take hold. Well, there was that one angry bar guy but he was the outlier and folks mostly ignored him.
The presentation was extremely 'data rich' and that will take some time to put together. The Review audio taped the proceedings and CUinFP video recorded it. I have no time til tonight or tomorrow to do a full(?) review, so let's hear from any/all of you who were in attendance, including bar owners - you know who you are :)