FORSYTH — A ban on video gambling in Forsyth remains in effect despite recent reconsideration of the issue.
The village board decided Monday to hold off on changing its 2012 ordinance to permit video gaming machines at certain types of restaurants.
“We really have a wonderful community,” trustee Bob Gruenewald said. “We have been blessed by sales tax revenue. I see no pressure to lower our standards. We're not looking for more revenue.”
The issue of video gaming was first discussed in January with the board deciding against making any changes. It was revisited after the owners of a proposed new restaurant approached the board in March about their business plan.
“Gaming is not our main focus,” said Nichole Corrington, one of the partners in a sports-themed pizza pub to be built in the former Golf USA location on Barnett Avenue. “We want to have that. Rent is very high here. We are not a nationwide business.”
The business would offer entertainment that is not available in Forsyth, including live music, said Jeff Ludwick, another business partner in the Trojan Horse Pizza, Pub and Sports restaurant.
Among other things, the business at 2,800 square feet in size would not have met the proposed requirement for a restaurant to be at least 3,500 square feet in order to be granted a gaming license.
Trustee Dave Wendt said larger establishments were being considered for gaming licenses in order to avoid businesses opening that solely are focused on gambling.
Many of the residents in the standing-room-only audience at the board meeting spoke out against the village allowing gambling. They want to maintain an atmosphere favorable to families.
The village should focus on attracting a chain grocery store, revitalizing Hickory Point Mall and developing the Prairie Winds area around the Maroa-Forsyth Grade School, said Andrew Crowther, pastor of Forsyth Baptist Church.
“These are the types of things the village should be working on,” Crowther said. “I'm concerned about the moral damage that is caused when gambling is introduced into a community. I'm thankful for what has been done to make this a family-friendly community.”
Trustee Steve Hubbard said after meeting with the owners of the proposed business, he wanted the board to reconsider its position. He said the number of locations that would be allowed to have video gaming could be limited.
After discussion, the board did not make a motion to vote on the proposed changes to the ordinance, with the majority of board members indicating they would be against it as written.