Gamblers test out video gaming at Bringer Inn in Morton Grove

September 12, 2012 4:27:08 PM PDT
It's been three years since the state of Illinois approved video gaming at sites outside of casinos. Now, the first machines are finally up and running.

ABC7 visited a small bar and tavern in Morton Grove where gamblers are testing out the new gaming machines.

The Bringer Inn has long been a fixture in the northwest suburb. But it no longer has its pool table. The room where it used to be is now occupied by five video gaming terminals, with names like Wheel of Gold and Kitty Glitter.

"It's the first time we've had something new in our industry since the juke box, where we have an entertainment venue that will bring additional revenue," said Mike Cummings, Bringer Inn owner.

The Bringer Inn was the first of only two locations in Illinois to go live with video gaming. The machines are part of a test. If there are no bugs, other locations waiting in the wings will follow.

The machines are all connected to a central computer that serves as the mothership. It remotely controls when the games are turned on and off. It doesn't know who's playing, but does know what's in play.

"It keeps track of how much money is coming into the machine, how much money is going out, and how much is being won," said Aaron Jaffe, chairman, Illinois Gaming Board.

And lost. The machines have a $2 bet limit. The maximum pay-out per machine is $500.

The money goes in. You play. If you win, or choose to stop because you've lost enough, you cash-out. You get a voucher. That ticket goes into a kiosk, or it's presented to the bartender who scans it through a special redemption vault, and out comes your money -amounts all recorded by the mothership computer.

Bill Wegner won $20 bucks Wednesday.

"It's something you can walk down to the corner and do if you want," said Wegner. "That 10 bucks is buring a hole in your pocket. Well, let's see if I want to make it $20. It won't be so bad."

Still, dozens of communities have opted out of video gaming, seeing it as a bad idea.

"We're still very optimistic that a lot of those villages that opted out will choose to opt in," said Lynne Morris, Morris Gaming.

"We're as ready as we'll ever be, but even when you're ready, you're not. Because this is a new industry. It's really a new industry," said Jaffe.

Video gaming was signed into law over three years ago, and the forecast was it would bring the state roughly $335 million a year - a large portion of which was to pay for roads, bridges and the like. But that estimate came before many communities opted out, and Chicago declined to opt in. So the big picture remains unclear.

Still, those on the ground floor of the video gaming roll-out - like the Bringer Inn - think the odds point to a winner.


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