Metro-East News

Swansea board OKs video gaming ordinance

Gaming machines will be allowed in village taverns, the Swansea Village Board decided Monday night.
Gaming machines will be allowed in village taverns, the Swansea Village Board decided Monday night. BND

Swansea residents soon won’t have to leave town to play video gaming machines now that the village approved a measure to let taverns in city limits install them.

The board voted 4-2 in favor of the ordinance during its regular meeting Monday evening. Trustees Brian Wells, Matt Lanter, Brian McGuire and Marilyn Neumeyer voted in favor of the measure while Trustees Katherine Ruocco and Stephen Tulley cast the “no” votes.

In her opposition to the ordinance, Ruocco said a controversial issue like gambling should be decided by Swansea’s voters, not its village board.

“There are some very strong feelings on both sides,” Ruocco said. “I think this matter is best suited for the ballot. I don’t think the board should be making this decision.”

Also opposed was Swansea resident Michael Ferri, who said allowing video gaming brings about too many social ills. “Those out-of-town machine jockeys are not going to be around to clean up the resulting mess,” he said.

Longtime resident Jack Wottowa spoke in support of the measure on the premise that the city is missing out on revenue as its own residents cross city limits to play machines in neighboring towns.

“We have to stay forward with the other communities near us,” Wottowa said. “If we don’t, we might as well all go sit in our rocking chair.”

Mike Neary, co-owner of Lucky’s Bar and Grill on the southern edge of town, said the patrons he serves form “a warm environment.”

“I don’t have bouncers, I don’t have door people because it’s such a nice community. And I have no doubt in my mind that video gambling will not change that,” Neary said.

Until Monday, Swansea had been one community that didn’t allow video gambling in a sea of towns that did. A previous attempt to allow video gaming there was rejected in 2012 not long after lawmakers voted to allow it statewide.

In other action, the board voted 5-1 to approve a contract with Abbott EMS to provide ambulance services in the village. Ruocco cast the lone “no” vote.

Contact reporter Tobias Wall at twall@bnd.com or 618-239-2501. Follow him on Twitter: @Wall_BND.

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