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First Fox Valley gambling machines in play

RobGarzfrom Plano plays video gambling Parkside Lanes AurorFriday December 28 2012. 'These are awesome.' Garzsaid 'I'm glad they finally got

Robin Garza from Plano plays on the video gambling at Parkside Lanes in Aurora on Friday, December 28, 2012. "These are awesome." Garza said, "I'm glad they finally got them." | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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The owners of Parkside Lanes are highlighting their newest attraction via a large sign along Montgomery Road: up-and-running video gambling machines.

Barstool gamblers may not be able to video gamble in Aurora city limits just yet, but the first of the legal video gambling machines have gone live in the Fox Valley in the last few weeks.

Kurt Frieders, Parkside Lanes general manager, said that because the lanes are in Aurora Township, just outside of the city limits, the bowling alley was able to complete the application process first.

And the five machines have been a big sell, he said.

“Without a doubt, they’ve been busy from when I walk in in the morning until closing the doors at night,” Frieders said. “We’ve been very pleasantly surprised with them.”

Since the Kane County Board voted to repeal its ban on video gambling in May 2010, bars and other eligible businesses in unincorporated parts of the county could install machines as soon as the state began issuing licenses.

Parkside was able to get its application in line with the Illinois Gaming Board nearly a year before businesses just down the street that are within Aurora city limits.

“It certainly does not hurt that as of right now, we’re the only game in town,” Frieders said. “Basically it’s just us and a couple of others online.”

In addition to the township bowling alley, Elburn-based Blackberry Bar and Grill, Olde Tyme Inn in Sandwich and The Friendly Tap in Plano are also open for video gambling business.

Jay Spoden, president of Sugar-Grove based Tiger Amusements/TAV Gaming, said his company has also installed video gaming units at the Turner Club in Aurora Township and Little Red School House in North Aurora. Those machines won’t be online until Jan. 3, as the Illinois Gaming Board dictates when the machines can be turned on, Spoden said.

It will be about two more months before the machines funnel business to Aurora spots, Spoden said.

“They’ve been in line since August, and it takes about 90 to 120 days to even get a survey and another month after that,” Spoden said.

The following Aurora businesses have applications pending with the Illinois Gaming Board: Mike & Denise’s Pizzeria & Pub, La Villita Liquors II, Casa Blanco Supermercado, Las Islas Marias Restaurant, Harm’s Way, Harmony’s Corner, Hooters, Chelios Pub & Grill, La Flama de Oro, La Sierra De Aurora Banquets, Midtown Pub & Grill, The Town Bar & Grill, North End Tap, Patrick’s Food and Spirits, Paulie’s Pub & Grille, Rudy’s Place, El Rodeo, Stoney’s Tavern, The Web, The Foundry, Aurora Moose Lodge, Luxemburger Hall, Amvets Post 103 and Waidley Post 468 VFW.

Although Parkside received a barrage of mail and visits from video gaming vendors, the bowling alley decided to do business local vendor TAV Gaming.

Spoden said the machines are bringing in three times more revenue than the vending company originally projected.

“But that’s not what we’re worried about,” Spoden said. “We’re worried about selling more beer, more pizza, more burgers to get people back in the environment.”

That, in turn, means more tips in waitress’ pockets and more sales tax dollars in the municipality coffers, he said.

Frieders said he is hoping the video gambling machines will be a lasting revenue source.

“At this point, my job is to create revenue in any way we can, and it certainly will make us money,” he said. “The question is, how much?”

The machine distributor and establishment operator each keep 35 percent of the revenue generated by the machine, and about 30 percent goes to the state. Of the state’s portion, 5 percent will go to the city, Spoden said.

Under Illinois law, bars, restaurants, licensed truck stop establishments, fraternal and veterans organizations are eligible to operate video game systems.

In October, legal video gambling went online at the first 65 Illinois locations. As of October, the gaming board was reviewing video gambling applications from more than 2,000 other locations.

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