Video gambling starting up for Illinois

By Beau Ebenezer

October 9, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2012 at 10:10 AM CDT

MACKINAW, Ill -- It's been a long time coming for video gambling in bars and restaurants around the state.

Resident of one small town in Tazewell County can now place their bets while enjoying a drink at a local bar.

"I did not know. I just came in to have a beer and they have them fired up," said Jerry Worden.

It's been three years since The Illinois General Assembly first approved a measure allowing video poker machines to be installed in bars and restaurants that hold liquor licenses.

The Illinois Gaming Board reports about 280 machines in about 70 establishments in Illinois are hooked up and ready to use.

The Hideaway Tavern in Mackinaw is the first to bring in gamblers in Tazewell County.

"It's important for the state of Illinois to do something like this and we're very happy to have them on today. As you can see, we have a lot of players and we'll have a lot of players tonight on them. We already had a winner on one of the machines," said Hideaway Owner Don Meyer.

Within minutes of starting them up, people lined up to to try their luck.

"Really exciting. It's gonna help out business out a lot. I've worked here for seven or eight years now and it's just gonna bring in a lot of people I think," said Hideaway employee Michelle Barner.

You can play as low as penny and win up to $500 on their five new machines.

The winnings come out as a voucher, which can be cashed in at the machine's establishment.

For local residents like Jerry Worden, he missed the entertainment of the old machines.

"That's what the old machines did. They gave you something to do. Instead of just sitting there or to watch the television. I can watch television at home. Why do I wanna sit here and have a beer when I can have a beer at home. But this here. I can't have this at home," said Worden.

So far, The Illinois Gaming Board has approved over 300 establishments and is in the process of reviewing applications for over 2,000 more, including over 100 in the Peoria area.