Our view: With video gaming here, be cautious

The only way the video gaming phenomenon gets reversed in Illinois is if the General Assembly votes to repeal it.

We encourage lawmakers to do so, though we recognize the chances of that happening are slim to none, at least in the short term.

Three years after legislators approved video gaming machines in bars and restaurants, the state finally got around to activating the first ones on Tuesday.

Among the 65 licensed bars and restaurants to have video gaming machines activated on Tuesday was Hub Lounge in Harvard, the first McHenry County location with working terminals.

Soon, these machines could be operational at locations in Fox River Grove, Harvard, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Marengo, McHenry, Richmond, Spring Grove and Woodstock, among other municipalities. City councils or village boards in each of these communities OK'd video gaming within their municipal boundaries.

The Crystal Lake City Council banned it within city limits, as did the McHenry County Board in unincorporated areas of the county.

Approved by state lawmakers in 2009, video gaming is designed to fund road, bridge and infrastructure work around the state. Machines will allow maximum bets of $2, with maximum payouts of $500.

After winnings are paid, the state gets 25 percent of the take. Cities get 5 percent. The remaining 70 percent will be split between owners of the local establishments and owners of the gaming machines.

While state and municipal governments see new revenue, the social costs can be tremendous. Gambling is addictive. Plenty of local residents are going to lose money, some who can't afford to do so.

Because of the nature of video gambling and its proximity to people’s homes, it is among the worst kinds.

We urge local residents to be wise with their money. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, seek help.

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