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updated: 9/10/2012 11:55 PM

E. Dundee to vote next week on video gambling ban

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The discussion on whether East Dundee should terminate its ban on video gambling is expected to conclude next week -- with a vote.

Monday night, the village board's committee of the whole agreed to put the issue to a vote at the next board meeting, which will happen next Monday.

Merchants representing four businesses said during the meeting that the decision should be a no-brainer, because it means more revenues for East Dundee and helps the business owners keep their customers happy.

Officials have said video gambling could bring between $100,000 and $250,000 into East Dundee. As well, neighboring towns, among them Carpentersville, South Elgin and Huntley, have already said yes to video gaming.

"The bottom line is it's all about our customers staying in our community and not going elsewhere, and we're not forcing them -- they don't need to gamble," said Richard Calendo, owner of Calendo's Corner, which has been around for 35 years. "We're just small business people trying to stay in business."

But at the moment, it does not appear there are enough "yes" votes to make video gambling a reality.

The measure needs four "yes" votes to pass, and trustees Jeff Lynam, Allen Skillicorn, Paul VanOstenbridge and Village President Jerald Bartels would rather keep the ban in place. Trustee Lael Miller is undecided. Trustees Rob Gorman and Michael Ruffulo were absent from Monday's meeting.

In a 2010 advisory referendum, a majority of the voters opted to keep video gambling illegal, and the board took a vote soon after to ban it.

But earlier this summer, several neighboring towns began to welcome video gambling and East Dundee decided to take another look at the issue.

However, the board so far has kept the ban in place. Last month, in fact, the board decided against putting a referendum question about the matter on the November ballot.

Yet after that vote in August, several business owners circulated a petition around town in support of video gambling one weekend and gathered more than 650 signatures.

They tried to get the question on the November ballot for a referendum, but they missed the deadline. Even so, the support the merchants got in a single weekend begged the question as to whether trustees should lift the ban.

Bartels and Lynam see no benefit in overturning the ban, as trustees instituted it based on the referendum.

"What we're being asked to do is completely reverse the voice of the people, and I'm not going to stand in favor of that at all," Lynam said. "That's what a referendum is for ... if we do that, we open the door to allow this to happen again."

Trustees also conducted their own informal poll on the issue last week and found that there were no strong opinions leaning one way or the other.

If the board says no next week, the soonest the measure could appear on the ballot would be in April -- this is, if business owners canvas the village once more and are able to get enough signatures to put it on there.

"We'll do whatever's necessary," Calendo said.

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