Algonquin to give gaming a chance

ALGONQUIN – The Village Board on Tuesday directed staff to put together an ordinance that if passed would allow video gaming. It could take about a month to put together.

It’s a similar plan of action to August, when the Village Board wanted to wait six months to see how video gambling was handled in other municipalities.

Local businesses, such as some of the village’s taverns and restaurants, asked the village to allow video gaming for fear they would lose customers to neighboring communities where it is allowed: Harvard, Marengo, McHenry, Lake in the Hills, Woodstock, Huntley, Hebron, Johnsburg, Fox River Grove and Richmond.

Crystal Lake, Cary, Island Lake and Lakewood rejected video gaming.

In neighboring communities, there are 199 establishments eligible for video gaming, but only 11 places actively use a video gaming license.

Nick Lennox, who works for video gaming terminal operator Accel Entertainment, said the there are so few licenses being used now because applications still are being processed by the Illinois Gaming Board. “It’s certainly bound to go up substantially in the next few months,” he said.

According to village staff members, a survey of local police departments where video gaming is allowed has not led to an increase in calls for service.

“Please note that several jurisdictions have very few locations with video gaming terminals, most commonly one location, and the video gaming terminals have been active for only one or two months,” according to Mike Kumbera’s memo to Village Board members

Village Board President John Schmitt said he would like to see some sort of sunset clause in the ordinance, setting when authorization for video gaming would end. “If there are problems, we let it die,” Schmitt said. “If there aren’t problems, we could renew it.”

Trustee Debby Sosine said she is skeptical of a short-term sunset provision because getting the machines is a large investment, requiring two to three years for businesses to pay off the cost..

Setting up five machines, which is the maximum allowed, could cost up to $100,000, Lennox said.

Trustee Jerry Glogowski said that if people were really for video gaming, they could have petitioned to put the issue on an upcoming ballot, and that did not happen.

Glogowski said many people in the community are against it.

Trustee Robert Smith said he was against a ballot measure.

“The fact that we’re hearing no negatives for it, I’m definitely in favor of moving forward with this … so we could allow legal video gambling,” Smith said.

Ken Fishleigh, owner of Nero’s Pizza & Pub, has been an outspoken proponent of allowing video gambling in the village.

He said it’s needed to help businesses.

“People are there for good fun, and to win a couple bucks here and there. We’re missing the boat,” Fishleigh said.

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