Island Lake reverses course, approves video gambling

ISLAND LAKE – Island Lake is reversing course on video gambling.

Village President Charles Amrich once again voted to break the 3-3 tie that has split the board, but this time, Amrich voted in favor of allowing certain establishments with liquor licenses to apply for video gaming machines.

The vote also rescinds a prior decision by the Island Lake Village Board to send the question to voters in November.

“This has really been a gut-wrenching decision that I’ve had to make here this evening,” Amrich said. “[It’s] not very often that I get to vote. This is one of the times, and I have to do what I feel is in the best interests of the residents of Island Lake and the businesses, which have had to survive in this business climate these last couple of years.”

Video gambling has been allowed in all the areas surrounding the village, Amrich said, pointing to unincorporated areas as well as neighboring Wauconda.

The decision came after more than 20 minutes of public comment, most of it centered on video gambling.

Many residents came out in favor of the ordinance, pointing to lost tax and business revenue.

Local governments get a 5 percent cut of the video gaming machines' profits, and the state takes 25 percent. Under the ordinance, bars, restaurants, truck stops, and fraternal and veterans clubs can install up to five video gaming machines.

Carrie Jacobs, who works at Sideouts Bar and Eatery in Island Lake, told the board she's seen her business go down since other establishments started getting video gaming machines.

"I've lived here my entire life," she said. "I've watched it go up. I've watched it go down. I've seen what it can be. As a child, we played baseball here. The community came together; it was wonderful. I see more and more people leaving the community because there's nothing here."

But some commenters felt that taking away the referendum after approving it was inappropriate.

"To me, this is not about video gambling," resident Elizabeth McGinty said. "This is the method that is being presented. ... I am just saying it would have been a more positive presentation if it had been put back on [the agenda] to discuss."

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