More organizations, including Knights of Columbus posts and other clubs, would be allowed to offer video gambling under legislation that has cleared the Illinois House.
Under current law, video poker and video slot machines are allowed at four types of establishments: fraternal clubs, veterans organizations, large truck stops and bars or restaurants that pour alcohol.
A bill which is sponsored by Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, and won approval in the House on Tuesday would expand the law to allow the machines at "licensed social clubs."
The bill defines a licensed social club as "a nonprofit location, operating in accordance with and under the tax-exempt status of subdivision 501(c)(4) or 501(c)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code, where alcoholic liquor is drawn, poured, mixed or otherwise served for consumption on the premises."
During floor debate Tuesday on the bill, Beiser said the Illinois Gaming Board has turned down video gambling applications from several groups such as Knights of Columbus posts "because they were deemed to be social clubs." Beiser said many legislators had thought groups such as Knights of Columbus would qualify for video gambling under the category of fraternal clubs, but the Gaming Board has decided otherwise.
Video gambling has proven to be a winner for many organizations. For example, the terminals at the Wood River Moose Lodge had a combined monthly net of a little more than $19,000 in February. The monthly net for the machines at Urbana American Legion Post 71 topped $72,000 in February.
The list of metro-east organizations that have been denied video-gambling licenses includes two Knights of Columbus posts: the Columbus Club of Millstadt and the Columbian Club of Carlyle.
Others from the metro-east that have been denied licenses include:
* CAA Inc. of Troy, doing business as Softball Central Concessions
* Sparta Country Club
* Quail Restoration Association of Illinois (Belleville), doing business as Quail Club
* Venice Social Club in Venice
* Alton Owls' Club of Alton.
Doug Lobstein, the bar chairman at the Quail Club, said the club's denial letter doesn't specifically mention anything about the organization being ineligible because of it being a social club. But he said state officials told him "that social clubs were going to be denied, and we were grouped into the social clubs."
Lobstein said the club is appealing the denial. The club has a bar that is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The non-profit club, whose goal is to improve declining quail populations, is more than 60 years old.
"We put a lot of time, effort and dollars into habitat," Lobstein said.
Social clubs across the state have been denied applications, or have had their applications put on hold. Many of them operate bars, and argue that they shouldn't be treated differently than bars that are owned by individuals.
The House vote was 64-46 in favor of passage. The bill, HB2311, now goes to the Senate.
How metro-east representatives voted:
* Beiser: Yes
* Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville: Yes
* Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton: No
* Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon: No
* Charlie Meier, R-Okawville: No
* John Cavaletto, R-Salem: No
* Eddie Lee Jackson, D-East St. Louis: Absent
Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at email@example.com.