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Coal City voters approve video gaming referendum

63 percent of voters vote 'Yes'

COAL CITY, Ill. — Coal City voters approved a referendum at the polls Tuesday to allow video gambling machines in village establishments that serve alcohol.

Just over 1,400 residents, or 63.55 percent of voters, voted yes on the non-binding referendum, while 812, or 36.45 percent, voted no.

The referendum stemmed from the village board's summer discussion of the topic, which was brought up when the Illinois Gaming Board approached the village at the opening of the application process for establishments.

Under the Video Gaming Act, approved by state legislators in 2009, up to five machines may be placed in IGB-licensed establishments with licenses to serve alcohol, fraternal and veterans establishments, and truck stops.

During discussion, the village's leaders presented a variety of views, from support and opposition to indifference. They ultimately approved a motion to put the issue before Coal City residents in a non-binding resolution, pledging to uphold whatever the result.

Marvin Perino, owner of Babe's Tap in Coal City and one of the local business owners who organized support for the referendum, said that, as the precinct results rolled in Tuesday night, he received a number of calls about it. He was glad to see the results.

"I'm really happy about it," he said. "The most important thing is the people in Coal City have voted in favor (of gaming) and we look forward to the Coal City trustees letting us move forward."

Coal City Mayor Neal Nelson, who has expressed reservations about the machines, watched the results come in Tuesday night at the Grundy County Courthouse.

"I'm a little bit surprised, but the people have spoken and the board has always said we'll let the people vote on this," he said.

Nelson said the approving the ordinance quickly is a priority for the board and that it will be brought before them at their next meeting on Monday, Nov. 12.

"We'll allow our businesses to compete with other local businesses in Carbon Hill and Wilmington," he said.

He also said Perino did a solid job representing local businesses in the referendum, and commented on the clean campaigning.

"I think it was a great (example of) democracy in action," he said.

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