Island Lake votes down video gaming

ISLAND LAKE – Video gaming machines still won’t be allowed in Island Lake.

The Village Board narrowly voted down an ordinance that would have allowed bars, restaurants, truck stops and fraternal and veterans clubs to install up to five machines.

Village President Charles Amrich cast the deciding vote at the board’s meeting Thursday evening, breaking a tie and killing the ordinance.

He pointed to the sizable opposition that attended the meeting, adding that a significant portion of the revenue goes to the machine operators and the local businesses where they’re housed.

The state takes a 25 percent cut, and local governments get 5 percent. 

The ordinance wouldn’t generate enough revenue to make it worth it, Amrich said.

Trustee Shannon Fox, one of the three trustees who voted in favor of the ordinance, doesn’t think the meeting’s attendees were an accurate representation of how the community as a whole feels about the proposal.

She spoke to many residents and business owners about it, she said, and they were in favor of it.

“I voted ‘yes’ because I want to give our businesses the ability to compete at a fair level,” she said. “It gives them a disadvantage compared to other area businesses which gain the increased food and liquor sales and the revenue from the gaming machines.”

It’s also not the government’s place to legislate morality, she said, adding that the revenue generated could have gone toward items such as new playground equipment.

Since a state law took effect allowing communities to legalize video gaming, many McHenry County communities decided to allow it. They include Algonquin, Huntley, Marengo, Harvard, McHenry, Richmond, Hebron, Johnsburg, McCullom Lake, Fox River Grove, Lake in the Hills, Spring Grove, Ringwood and Woodstock.

Some towns, such as Crystal Lake and Lakewood, have banned it.

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