Cary approves video gambling

CARY – Places with alcohol licenses in town can now have video gambling terminals.

The Village Board on Tuesday voted 5-1 to permit the machines. The action is a reversal from a stance taken by the village in 2010 to ban video gambling.

Video gambling has been live in the state for a little more than a year, and it serves as one of the revenue sources of the state's 2009 Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan.

The change in stance comes with a vastly different makeup on the Village Board. Only Trustee Rick Dudek, who voted no Tuesday, and now Village President Mark Kownick were trustees in 2010.

Dudek said he would rather have voters decide by referendum. Kownick said he changed his mind and now supports video gambling.

Trustees Bruce Kaplan, Karen Lukasik, David Chapman, Robert Bragg and Jeffery Kraus voted in favor of video gambling.

"This ordinance is overdue," Chapman said. "I look forward to … helping our businesses out."

Revenue, or the gambling losses collected by the machines, are split among the establishment, terminal operators, the company running the state's communication system, the state and the municipality.

Video gaming terminals can be located in bars and restaurants with liquor licenses, fraternal and veterans organizations and truck stops. An establishment can have up to five terminals.

Ten locations in town serve alcohol and can have the machines.

Under the ordinance, the village will collect a $25 annual fee per terminal. Businesses will be allowed to have temporary exterior signs for up to 30 days to promote they have video gambling. Businesses are permitted to have illuminated signs inside their windows.

The Village Board began considering allowing video gaming after owners of local bars and restaurants told officials they were losing customers to neighboring towns that permit video gaming terminals.

Towns such as Port Barrington, Fox River Grove, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills and McHenry allow video gambling.

Louise Lyon, owner of the Maple Tree, was among the handful of bar owners at the meeting in support of video gambling. They brought petitions with more than 400 signatures, of which more than 300 signatures are from Cary residents, supporting video gambling.

"All we want is an even playing field so we can make a living," Lyon said. "Including myself, those who like to gamble. I go to Fox River Grove. I rather keep my money in Cary."

Brett Coleman, owner of Coleman's in the Park, said the establishments could use money from video gambling to invest back into their businesses with parking lot improvements or roof replacements, among other things, which leads to more people working.

"Part of this money comes back to Cary," Coleman said. "All of those people that are hired are also part of our community. I think this thing is a chain of help and a community spirit that will help us."

A handful of residents sent emails to the village about the issue. Christine Baughman supported allowing video gambling.

"As it is, we are losing all of our business to the towns around us," Baughman wrote. "We need more revenue for the village. As it is, our taxes [are] way too high."

Winona Westbrook wrote to oppose video gambling because of the potential of more demand on the police department.

"Gambling is gambling and always increases the risk of crime to an area," Westbrook wrote.

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