Two Carpentersville trustees who previously voted against video gambling, had an about face on their positions Tuesday night, a move that was enough to officially bring it to town.
The last time the board voted on the issue two weeks ago, trustees Paul Humpfer and Patricia Schultz voted to keep video gambling illegal. Humpfer cited studies that said it would bring more crime to Carpentersville and burden the police department, while Schultz worried about state encroachment on anticipated revenues and an organized crime element.
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During that meeting, Humpfer said he'd consider changing his vote if business owners showed him studies that said video gambling would not bring crime to the village.
Chris McSwain, part owner of Awesome Hand Gaming and AH Entertainers, both in Rolling Meadows, said he did just that.
Since the vote, Humpfer and Schultz also met with several business owners and the leadership at the Moose Lodge and the VFW. During those meetings, Humpfer and Schultz got assurance that the merchants aren't just in it for the money and that they care about the village's image, don't want people to become addicts and will pull out all the stops to ensure that nobody under 21 plays the machines.
"They don't want to make things worse for anyone in the village, and they're willing to step up and take some responsibility from that perspective," Humpfer said.
The gambling license will be tied to the liquor license, so if something goes wrong that involves gambling, the liquor license could also be at stake.
Those that are eligible for the machines have also agreed to write a code of ethics and a code of conduct that involves machine usage and would be submitted as part of the application process to obtain a gaming terminal.
As well, the police department will monitor gambling activity to ensure the machines are in their own area and that no one under 21 is playing.
Humpfer and Schultz recognized that in this tough economy, the businesses need every dollar to survive and in some cases, to continue giving back to the community. In the Moose Lodge's case, it has already laid off one person and intends to cut others' hours next month.
"I hope that this is all that you will realize it'll be," Schultz told four representatives from three businesses.
Tuesday night, Trustee Kay Teeter was the only one who voted to keep video gambling illegal. Trustee Doug Marks, who missed the last four meetings, attended Tuesday and voted for video gambling.
Curt Lavender, treasurer of the Moose Lodge, was delighted with the change of heart and said he only wanted the board to give the businesses a chance to prove themselves.
"Let the businesses police themselves with the police department," Lavender said. "I want the controls on it, I just don't want to go hog wild."