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updated: 5/30/2012 3:04 PM

Prospect Heights City Council considers video gambling

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By David Conway
dconway@dailyherald.com

The Prospect Heights City Council discussed Tuesday the possibility of allowing video gambling in the city.

Mayor Nick Helmer voiced his support for the move. He told the board that, since video gambling will be coming to the area whether or not it's permitted within Prospect Heights, he didn't see a reason to pass on the opportunity.

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"I see the whole thing as a positive move," Helmer said. "It's a recurring source of income and this is the environment that we're in."

The mood of the council appeared divided. Aldermen Patrick Ludvigsen and Luis Mendez expressed tentative support for video gambling, while Alderman Bree Higgins said she was on the fence.

Higgins cited as reservations the city's struggle with the state over tax funds and a similar initiative that the council voted against because of concerns about the capability of the city to police gambling, though she acknowledged the city's police force had been expanded since then.

Alderman Scott Williamson said he was personally against the move, but said he would attempt to gauge the opinions of residents he represents before the next meeting. Alderman John Styler was not present.

City Administrator Anne Marin said several local businesses had expressed their interest in adding video gambling to their establishments. She added that Prospect Heights would receive 5 percent of the gross revenue generated by the machines.

The first wave of licenses is expected to be granted by the Illinois Gaming Board beginning Aug. 1. The state legalized video gambling in 2009 to raise $31 billion for capital improvements. Nearly 15,000 locations statewide are expected to seek licenses.

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