Video Gaming Parlor To Open Within Naperville, Illinois Boundaries Despite City Ban

Ziv Chen

Video gambling at bars, restaurants, and other public venues is currently prohibited in the city of Naperville, Illinois. However, Illinois businessman Benny Salamone has announced legal plans to open a gaming parlor within city limits this year, on a slice of unincorporated land, hoping doors will open in the fall.

Illinois lawmakers passed the Video Gaming Act in 2009, which came into effect in 2012. The act authorizes the placement of Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) in licensed retail establishments, truck stops, and veteran and fraternal establishments. However, it also includes terms permitting individual counties and municipalities to ban VGTs. 

DuPage County currently allows gambling in some capacity in 23 of its jurisdictions, including Aurora, Lisle, and Warrenville. However, Naperville, which is also within DuPage County, isn’t one of these permitted jurisdictions. 

But the proposed parlor, Betsy’$ Slots, will be located at 1001 East Ogden Avenue, a portion of unincorporated land between city segments. The area is also zoned as B2 for general businesses, which allows gaming in places with an alcohol license.

DuPage Planning and Zoning Coordinator Paul Hoss confirmed that 1001 East Ogden Avenue has a Class B liquor license. According to Hoss, this would be the first gaming location to open on unincorporated land in Naperville.

Licensing status and timetable

The proposal for Betsy’$ Slots is that it will have six slot machines, with landowner Salamone saying, “It’s just going to be a place where people who want to get away can have a little entertainment and do a little gambling.”

Salamone is an experienced gaming parlor operator, already owning six Betsy’$ locations in the state. There are five in Rockford and another in South Beloit. He started his career in the food industry but has spent the last 15 years working in gambling. 

“It was perfect, you know?” he said about the location, per the Chicago Tribune. “It was the perfect opportunity for me to invest. I always heard good things about Naperville. I’ve known a couple of people over the years that lived there, and it’s a nice little city.”

Salamone has yet to receive a gaming license from the Illinois Gaming Board. The Board has no set time frame for approving video gaming licenses, and the regulator takes the time it requires to complete security and financial investigations to ensure any applicants comply with the Video Gaming Act. The next Illinois Gaming Board meeting is on July 25. 

While Salamone maintains he has “never had issues” getting licenses, Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli doesn’t share Salamone’s enthusiasm.

“I do not support putting video gaming machines in our community in exchange for Naperville getting a nickel on every dollar lost,” the mayor said in a statement to the Tribune. “While some establishments may financially benefit, the video gaming industry would likely squeeze out retail establishments, drive rents up, and draw consumers away from our restaurants and entertainment venues. I’ve been mayor for a year, and the only people asking me about the video gaming ban are those who would profit from video gaming machines.”