Video Gambling in the Stateline

By: Shannon Smith Email
By: Shannon Smith Email

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- After years of waiting it's game on for some local bars as the anticipated video gaming machines are up and running in places like Opsahl's pizza.

"I enjoy gambling," said bar patron, Ron Grenert.

Ron Grenert is feeling lucky. This is the second day in a row he's come to Opsahl's pizza to play, and he admits it's not the pizza that keeps him coming.

"'I heard the machines were out here and I wanted to see how they worked and I really enjoy playing them."

For Grenert, it's nice to be able to gamble close to home.

"This is great, where I don't have to drive out of town or out of state to gamble," said the bar patron.

The video gaming machines were turned on in early September, and as owner Bill Opsahl tells us, business is booming.

"Business is definitely picking up. A lot of people are excited coming in to play the machines," Opsahl said.

The Illinois Gaming Board chose Opsahl's as a test site for the machines where the systems could only be on for a few hours at a time. But, after a few weeks with no problems, Opsahl's got the green light.

Although the games are a hit, Opsahl says their popularity isn't hurting the pizzeria.

"They'll sit down and wait a couple of minutes and have a pop or get a pizza you know," said Opsahl.

He says the machines already have people coming, the new challenge is getting them to leave.

“They'll be here ‘til closing. They’re usually here around 9am in the morning, different people." Opshal added.

Other restaurants like Rockford's Billiard Cafe and Mary's Place will also have video gaming machines. Each restaurant will get 5 machines and some will have a kiosk allowing players to cash out without going to the bar.
The Illinois Gaming Board says they are still in the testing phase. Once they are done, the machines in the other restaurants will be turned on.

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