To prevent 115 Schaumburg businesses from becoming automatically eligible for video gambling machines later this year, village trustees Tuesday exercised their right to ban such gambling.
The decision makes official the direction the village board has been leaning almost ever since Gov. Pat Quinn approved a $31 billion capital improvement package and signed the Video Gaming Act in July 2009.
Since then, the Illinois Gaming Board has been busy drafting rules and regulations for video gambling in the state. But when that's done, probably around September, eligible businesses will be free to install video gambling terminals if not banned by the municipality they lie in, Schaumburg Director of Community Services Kathleen Tempesta said.
Eligible business are either those with a minimum of 20,000 square feet where electronic gaming is the principal use -- like Gameworks -- or sit-down restaurants with at least 4,500 square feet, of which Schaumburg has many.
Village officials believe that, realistically, only about 25 businesses might seek licenses and dedicate space for such machines. But it's simpler for the village to ban the machines before the Illinois Gaming Board finishes its work rather than after, Tempesta said.
Though she hadn't heard of any businesses expressing interest in a license, imposing a ban after the fact would create a stickier situation from a legal standpoint than doing it before, Tempesta said.
"We don't want to put businesses or the village in a difficult position," she said. "It was time to make a decision."
Though the generation of more tax money was one of the key motivators behind the 2009 Act, it's not one the village of Schaumburg shares, Mayor Al Larson said.
"Why should we?" he asked.
Larson and Tempesta said the village board believes the appeal of Schaumburg's business community has already been established and needs no help from gambling when patrons can go elsewhere.
Depending on the number of video gambling licenses that might have been issued in Schaumburg, enforcement of laws against underage use of the machines was projected to cost between $4,910 and $20,135 per year.
The amount of village revenue that could be generated by the same number of licenses was estimated between $33,750 to $281,250 per year.
Though on paper expected revenues exceed expected costs, in practice even current enforcement of underage drinking laws has proved costly and time-consuming before a business abusing them can be closed, officials said.
Neighboring suburbs that have already banned video gambling include Addison, Arlington Heights, Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Carol Stream, Hanover Park, Itasca, Roselle, South Barrington, St. Charles and Streamwood.