Video gambling

Before any further video gaming cafes are allowed to locate in Kankakee, the city will conduct a deeper look into the impact they have on the community. The stop wouldn’t apply to gaming areas located inside another business, like the one shown here.

KANKAKEE — There will be a pause in the approval of any more gaming cafes in Kankakee.

At Monday’s Kankakee City Council meeting, council members narrowly adopted the proposed six-month moratorium on locating any additional gaming cafes within the city.

The vote approving the moratorium was 7-5.

Voting in favor of the moratorium were Kelly Johnson, D-6; Victor Nevarez, D-5; Danita Grant Swanson, R-4; Larry Osenga and David Crawford, R-3; Mike O’Brien and David Baron, D-2.

Voting against it were Carl Brown and Reginald Jones, D-7; Mike Cobbs, D-6; Cherry Malone-Marshall and Michael Prude, D-1.

Alderman Lance Marczak abstained. Alderwoman Carmen Lewis, D-5, was absent.

There are currently four gaming cafes within city boundaries and Malone-Marshall, a Democrat representing the 1st Ward, perhaps Kankakee’s most economically challenged area and its most heavily minority-populated ward, charged the moratorium is racially motivated.

“This is systematic racism,” she said, noting the four other locations for the gaming cafes are in the city’s 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th wards. She noted now that those areas with less minorities have their gaming cafes, the city is shutting down further expansion.

She believes each of the city’s seven wards should be allowed to decide if they would like a gaming cafe. She noted she would not step inside a gaming cafe, but the ward should be allowed to have one.

“This has been happening for years,” she said in reference to racism. “There is no reason to stop business coming to our neighborhood.”

David Baron, D-2, has been the council leader regarding review of the impact these cafes have on an area. He said there also needs to be rules established as to where these cafes can be located in connection with churches, schools and other such locations, if the council decides to allow further expansion.

“There are a number of questions to be addressed,” he said, referring to what he believes is the negative impacts these locations have on a community, especially a community with a large low-income rate.

“Personally, I think four is enough for a community,” he said. “We need to have that discussion. Where are we going with gaming as a whole?”

Baron said it is possible the study could be completed prior to April 2022. He said the study could also take more time to complete.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.