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posted: 5/11/2012 5:46 PM

Lake Zurich mulls video gaming

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By Mitchell Armentrout
marmentrout@dailyherald.com

Video gambling could be on its way to Lake Zurich.

Village trustees voted this week to take another look at the electronic games that have been banned in Lake Zurich since 2009. They will discuss the issue at the May 21 regular board meeting, opening the door to potential village ordinance amendments that would allow the games at approved sites.

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Illinois' Video Gaming Act of 2009 legalized electronic poker and other games at bars, fraternal or veterans' organizations and truck stops, but allowed municipalities to ban them within their boundaries. The Illinois Gaming Board delayed issuing licenses until it devised guidelines for operating the video gaming systems. Lake Zurich adopted an ordinance that year prohibiting the games until IGB regulations were established.

Three years later, state guidelines are in place, and local organizations are interested in bringing the games to Lake Zurich.

"It's something a lot of our patrons have said they'd like to see," said Stephanie Girard, owner of Score Board Bar and Grill in Lake Zurich. Girard addressed the village board Monday to ask trustees where they stood on the issue.

"From a customer service standpoint, I think it would be good for us, and it could bring in some revenue for the village," she said.

Under Illinois law, video gaming revenue is divided four ways: the gaming device provider and the owner of the establishment housing it each get 35 percent, the state gets 25 percent and the last 5 percent goes to the village.

License holders must have a separate area for the electronic gambling games and provide supervision by someone 21 or older. Lake Zurich police would be responsible for compliance checks, along with Illinois State Police.

Police Chief Patrick Finlon said two organizations have inquired about obtaining licenses -- Score Board and the Lake Zurich American Legion Post. He said about 20 establishments would be eligible to apply for video gaming licenses if trustees vote to allow it.

"The board first needs to decide if this is something they want in the village. Then, they need to choose if all potential license holders should be eligible or if they want to restrict it," Finlon said.

Village Trustee Dana Rzeznik said she was on the fence about video gaming.

"In general, I am against gambling, but I'm willing to look at it," Rzeznik said.

According to IGB records, more than half of the municipalities in Lake County prohibit video gaming after opting out of the state's gaming act or putting ordinances in place to ban it.

If Lake Zurich changed the ordinance, the earliest licenses could be issued is September, according to the IGB.

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