Algonquin approves video gambling

ALGONQUIN – Video gambling is finally OK in the village.

In a 5-2 vote Tuesday, the Village Board decided to allow video gambling in Algonquin.

Trustee Brian Dianis and Village President John Schmitt voted against the measure.

Trustees Jerry Glogowski, Jim Steigert, Robert Smith, John Spella and Debby Sosine voted in favor of the measure.

Under village rules, there will be a $500 annual license fee per terminal or device, and a $1,000 annual license fee for each terminal operator that supplies video gambling machines within the village. The state allows a maximum of five terminals per establishment.

Some of the village’s taverns and restaurants asked the village to allow video gaming out of fear they would lose customers to neighboring communities where it is allowed, such as Lake in the Hills, Huntley and Fox River Grove. Crystal Lake, Cary and Lakewood have rejected video gaming.

Local governments have had the choice to ban or allow video gaming since 2009, when the state Legislature legalized it to help pay for a $31 billion infrastructure plan. Video gambling finally went live in October. Algonquin officials decided to wait six months to see how video gambling was handled in other municipalities.

Penalties for establishments violating video gambling rules will be handled by the liquor commission. The minimum fine will be $1,000. Video gaming will be tied to the establishment’s liquor license, which could be suspended or revoked for a violation.

If a liquor license is suspended because of a liquor code violation, such as selling to an underaged person, then video gambling would not be permitted during the suspension.

Only people who are 21 or older can play the machines, and the area where machines are located has to be monitored by someone at least 21 years old. A camera-surveillance system is required in the gaming area. Establishments also would have to have a responsible gaming policy where employees are trained, among other things.

Municipalities who have video gaming terminals can receive revenue off of the machines. After winnings are paid out, municipalities receive 5 percent of the machine revenue.
Algonquin plans to put revenue from the machines toward recreation programs in the village.

Schmitt reiterated that he believes video gambling is wrong for the village.

“I think this is a negative for the village of Algonquin. It’s just not what we have worked all these years to produce and to project,” Schmitt said. “We have a heck of a lot of liquor licenses out there, and we could end up being a gambling mecca, and we can’t say no ... I think this a huge mistake to take this on for the entire village.”

Ken Fishleigh, owner of Nero’s Pizza & Pub who has spoken at previous Village Board meetings in support of video gambling, was pleased with the vote. He said he’s hoping to have five machines in his restaurant, and he already has applied to the state.

“I’m excited to hopefully move forward, and our establishment is ready to do the right thing for the community,” Fishleigh said. “Everything is in already; it’s just a matter of [the village] getting things in order.”

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