An employee stood behind the counter one day last week at the Lucy's Place on Denver Drive in Springfield, ready to serve candy, snacks, beer and wine to customers. Coffee is free. The place is quiet and perhaps a little sterile — sort of a cross between a bar and an insurance office.

Five gambling machines along two walls sport names like Mega Winner. They were alive with electronic sounds and spinning wheels flashing various colors.

Lisa Ribble plopped down at one of the terminals and settled in.

"I'm excited," Ribble said, sitting at a game called Kitty Glitter. She explained how it works: "You get all the cats in a row, and you get money."

Ribble, 47, a home health care worker, said she is making fewer trips to riverboat casinos now that video gambling is available at cafes like Lucy's Place.

Janet Hammer, of Orlando, Fla., often comes to the Springfield area to visit friends and family.

On more than one occasion, she's taken her mother to Lucy's Place.

"She's 84 and I think going to a bar is not her thing, it never has been," Hammer said. "She prefers places like Lucy's. You don't have people in here drinking. They're here to play the machines."

mwalberg@tribune.com

rlong@tribune.com