The sky is falling

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By Nona Tepper

Yesterday marked the first day candidates could start circulating political nomination papers (ie. petitions) and the new Let Forest Park Grow-Vote No group celebrated the occasion by distributing the first political flier of the season. A helpful reader sent it in for the Forest Park Review to fact-check. If you haven't heard, the Review is fact-checking every campaign flier this election season, in an effort to inform voters. Keep in touch: or


Specs: 8 ½ x 11, glossy, two-sided

Submitted to Forest Park Review: Sept. 18

The flier features a pensive chicken and offers a few claims:    

1)        "Forest Park has enjoyed video gaming since 2016…." TRUE

The Village Council voted on Oct. 24, 2016 to legalize video gaming in Forest Park.

2)        "Video gaming hasn't changed Forest Park and has not increased crime." MOSTLY TRUE

There was a 1 percent increase in crime in 2017 compared to 2016, according to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Reporting program. In 2017, the total number of criminal complaints filed to the Forest Park Police Department was 2,270, up from 2,243 in 2016. Numbers from this year are not available yet. The report does not specify cause for crime.

3)    "In 2017, the first full year of video gaming, Forest Park home resale prices jumped 10.4%--a higher increase than neighboring Oak Park, River Forest, and Riverside who do not have video gaming machines." The flier cites an article by Crain's Chicago Business. TRUE, BUT…

The Crain's article does state that Forest Park's home sales price increased 10.4 percent year over year. This is more than the home resale price in Oak Park (-2.3 percent), River Forest (9.3 percent) and Riverside (-5.6 percent).

John Lawrence, founder of the Oak Park-based Weichert Realtors Nickel Group and president of the Oak Park Area Association of Realtors, credits new construction and high property taxes in neighboring towns with driving up the local sales price. Weichert sells homes in Forest Park and other western suburbs of Chicago.

"There's people who like what the housing options are over there," Lawrence said. "There's a lot of investment going on in Forest Park, there's been some really nice, new construction homes built. There are people who are choosing to go to Forest Park to avoid some of the tax burdens in Oak Park, so you can get a really nice, new construction home for less and the taxes are going to be less."

3)        "In the short time Forest Park has had video gaming it has added nearly $300,000 to the Forest Park budget that pays for vital services and helps save taxpayer dollars." TRUE, BUT...

The total amount earned through video gaming was $165,141 in fiscal year 2018 and $17,921 in fiscal year 2017, according to data provided by the village of Forest Park, which includes all license fees, permits, and the village's share of the terminal income. As of Sept. 17, the village had so far received $104,035 in revenue from video gaming in fiscal year 2019. The village's fiscal year runs from May 1 to April 30. The total the village has made so far from video gaming is $287,097.

As for how the village uses the money, video gaming revenue is added to the village's General Fund, the primary fund in the village that funds "basic services," according to the 2017 auditors' report.

SENT BY: Let Forest Park Grow-Vote No is a ballot initiative committee established Aug. 22 with the aim of supporting licensed video gaming in the village, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform nonprofit. James Watts, owner of O'Sullivan's Public House and the bar owner who brought the local battle over video gaming to the state Supreme Court, is listed as its chairperson. Let Forest Park Grow's headquarters is listed as 545 Beloit Ave., a residential property Watts owns, according to property records. As of the most recent committee earnings report filed on June 21, Let Forest Park Grow had no money in its bank account. 

Reader Comments

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Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 24th, 2018 3:04 PM

According to Statista ( ) slot machines and other mobile gaming devices in casinos in Nevada numbered over 164,000. According to the American Gaming Association's 2017 annual report, "at the end of 2016, there were 24,841 VGTs installed in retail locations across Illinois, up 12.2 percent versus the prior year." A news article in Illinois News states "As of July 2017, there are 27,145 video gaming machines operating in Illinois" and states that "That's more than any other state, including Nevada." Which appears to be wrong. .

Pam Fontana  

Posted: September 24th, 2018 11:54 AM

Michelle, where did you find this 'fact'? "Illinois has more VG machines than the state of Nevada". And are you splitting hairs here by calling what is in Vegas a slot machines vs. video gaming machine? Please let us know where we can verify the information you post as truth. Thank you.

Jerry Webster  

Posted: September 22nd, 2018 9:25 PM

Nona, you may want to recheck their bank account as they are running ads in the Review.

Robert C. Cox from Forest Park  

Posted: September 21st, 2018 8:54 AM

not sure of why ? appear , I cut and pasted from my blog

Robert C. Cox from Forest Park  

Posted: September 21st, 2018 8:53 AM

My position as  resident, urban planner, business consultant is that this is a long-term quality of life issue not a short-term business interest issue.  Quality of Life policies deal with consensus of the people who live here. It is a community identity  and source of community pride issue and because of the VC action  that went  directly in the face of the previous referendum that lost to legal finagling ... legal but not entirely  honest ,ethical , transparent ,or was not for the common good of all Forest Parkers of all ages. That is a hard pill to swallow for Video Gaming supporters and  local business sponsors recovering from losses( a small hardship) in  banned cigarette sales and bar market saturation . The Village Council action to initiate video gambling licenses was not the best public policy move.  Zoning lawyers spend up to 70% of their billed time to so called public nuisance ordinances that  have created negative unanticipated outcomes. These costs could have been avoided.

Michelle Melin-Rogovin from Forest Park  

Posted: September 21st, 2018 4:20 AM

Superb analysis. This is why I subscribe to my hometown paper! More facts to add - Illinois has more VG machines than the state of Nevada, and the lowest tax rate on owners. Owners pay local government taxes of 5% and state taxes of 25%.(lowest in the nation) So while Forest Park and the have budget deficits video gambling machine owners pocket 70% of the revenue. Tell me again, how does this help Forest Park grow? The only winners are the owners of video gambling machines. Our community can do better.

Geoff Binns-Calvey  

Posted: September 21st, 2018 2:20 AM

Pam, if someone told me the sky was falling, I'd look up some peer reviewed, university based, long term research articles, and find facts to see if the sky was falling, or not. I like to do some research before I decide, rather than go on a few local stories. Did you have a chance to read the article, Pam? Lots of interesting facts in it. Let me know what you think, after you've read it. I know you're an educated and intelligent person, who wouldn't make a decision without all the facts.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 20th, 2018 9:29 PM

You referring to the folks who have "NO" on their yard signs, Pam?

Pam Fontana  

Posted: September 20th, 2018 1:31 PM

I see the ANTI people are still the SKY IS FALLING mentality. OMG, crime is up you want to attribute to the gaming machines? That is a stretch. I would like to know how much is because of the machines. I am going to say none to just the one yahoo who ripped off his landlord by breaking into the bar he lived over to steal booze and try and get into the machines. I believe he was apprehended as well. I am so sick of all the sky is falling people and their 'regressive' talk. Let me decide how and where I want to legally spend my $$.

Amy Binns-Calvey  

Posted: September 20th, 2018 7:09 AM

Not sure why there were question marks in my text - there aren't question marks in the title! The article is: Can't Stop the One-Armed-Bandits: The Effects of Access to Gambling on Crime

Amy Binns-Calvey  

Posted: September 20th, 2018 7:07 AM

It is so terrific that the Review is fact checking campaign literature. It is a much needed and appreciated service. Of course using figures from one village that recently allowed gambling is too small of a sample to be statistically significant, you can't really draw long-term conclusions about property values and crime based on that data. Luckily for us a recent study done by a researcher from the Department of Economics at the the University of Illinois looked at the effects of video gambling and crime rates over a large area and over a long period of time. They found that higher access to video gambling increases both property and violent crime. I encourage folks to read the paper for themselves: Can't Stop the One-Armed Bandits ?" The Effects of Access to Gambling on Crime ?" it's available online.

Kate Nolan  

Posted: September 19th, 2018 10:23 PM

A much appreciated evaluation! Crime is up, home price increases cannot be attributed to gambling, and (do the math) gambling has generated a pittance to our coffers (less than 40 hours of operation annually). No closing of the pension gap. Residents' taxes and fees up precipitously. Storefronts no more filled than before. Shoring up failing bars by picking the pockets of our neighbors is no way to fund our village. Vote "yes" to prohibit the predatory gambling profits. Then let's elect a mayor and council that will deal with the tough issues we face rather than hiding behind the false promises of gambling profits.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 19th, 2018 8:16 PM

Solid, basic, effort-taking journalism.

Jan Stephens  

Posted: September 19th, 2018 7:52 PM

Interesting. Thank you

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