FISHER — Though the village board voted 5-0 to approve an ordinance that allows video gambling in the northernwestern Champaign County town, Mayor Milt Kelly vetoed the measure.
That means the board will discuss the matter again next month and a two-thirds majority vote would override Kelly's veto.
Trustee Chris White was out of town and unable to attend the meeting but had sent Mayor Milt Kelly a statement to read at the meeting citing his concerns that the board was moving too fast and had not allowed sufficient time for community input.
Kelly asked the five present trustees if anyone wanted to table the matter, but no one did.
Trustee Jason Mathias said he favored allowing gaming because it would be highly regulated. He noted that he has bought raffle tickets, played bingo and participated in NCAA pools, all in town, so he has gambled. He told the approximately 20 residents in attendance, most of whom said they opposed the gaming ordinance: "To disappoint you makes me sick."
Trustee Deb Estes said she thought allowing the gaming was less "egregious" than when the village allowed alcohol sales several years ago. She noted the sales haven't proven to be a problem.
Trustee Mike Bayler told the residents that he didn't think allowing the games would encourage taverns to "pop up" in town. There are none now and he said the village controls who will get liquor licenses.
Only two places serve alcohol now, a restaurant and the AMVETS club. AMVETS wants to apply for the state gaming license as soon as possible.
"AMVETS has done a lot for this community in 46 years. It's a private club. Bingo and 50/50 raffles go on now," Bayler said.
But Kelly said he needed to stand up for what he believed in even though his veto will most likely be overturned. He noted 80 communities in the state have opted out of the law including Chicago.
"If we pass this now, it means we're giving blanket approval to future establishments," he said. "There will be expansion."
Kelly also said it is the poor who will be most affected, losing money they can ill afford, to give more tax money to the state. He said the revenue won't be new, just redirected, away from restaurants and grocery stores.
"This is not the time, and Fisher is not the place," for gambling, Kelly said.
White had said in his statement the proposal to legalize gambling in Fisher should be able to be discussed with prior notice and at a time when many of the concerned citizens can debate and discuss the merits and the cons of this. He said given the shortness of the notice and the need to fully discuss this change in the town laws he strongly recommended that any votes to amend the current gambling ordinance be postponed.
Revenue from the machines will be split 35 percent for the machine providers, 35 percent for the host (liquor establishment), 25 percent for the state and 5 percent for the municipality.