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posted: 5/9/2012 3:21 PM

Elk Grove Village invites resident input on video gambling

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Elk Grove Village will conduct a public hearing on May 22 to garner resident input on whether the village should allow video gambling, Mayor Craig Johnson said Tuesday.

"We will have a special Committee of the Whole to discuss the machines and see if we're going to allow it," Johnson said.

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The state legalized video gambling in 2009 to raise $31 billion for capital improvements. The program is yet to get off the ground. The state is expected to begin handing out video gambling licenses later this year.

As many as 15,000 locations statewide are expected to seek licenses once applications become available, according to the Illinois Gaming Board. No more than five machines can be placed in licensed truck stops, restaurants with liquor licenses, bars, clubs, and halls of fraternal and veterans' organizations.

Johnson said in the last two years several businesses have approached board members about getting video gambling machines and it's time to get answers.

"We owe it to all of them to have an open, public fact-gathering mission," he said.

Counties and municipalities that allow video gambling will receive 5 percent of net revenues (after winnings are paid out). The state collects 25 percent of net revenues, while establishment owners and the terminal operators evenly split the rest.

Elk Grove Village is anticipating roughly $50,000 to $100,000 in yearly revenue from video gambling if it allows it. But revenues may decline depending on how many towns in the area have video gambling, Johnson said.

Johnson said his primary concern is the village has no authority to regulate video poker machines, which would be permitted in any business holding a liquor license where on-site consumption is allowed.

"Once we approve it, anyone with a liquor license gets it," he said. "If we consider there is a violation, we can take away the liquor license. We don't have oversight with the gambling. It takes away a lot of our local control."

Elk Grove Village officials have never taken a position for or against video gambling and board members are keeping their minds open, Johnson said. The village allows off-track betting and lottery sales, but there are still questions about how the state will control video gambling.

"This opens a different element that needs to be reviewed," Johnson said. "This board will gather information, hear comments, gather more information and we will be making a decision at the June board meeting to allow it or not allow it."

The public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. in the board room at Elk Grove Village Hall, 901 Wellington Ave.

Suburbs that already have banned video gambling include Arlington Heights, Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Hanover Park, Roselle and Schaumburg. Some towns that had gambling bans are reviewing lifting them and others, including Bartlett, have yet to take a stance on the issue.

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