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posted: 9/10/2012 10:38 PM

Mundelein closer to approving video gambling

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  • A Universal Gaming Group Velocity poker gambling machine installed at the Assembly in Hoffman Estates. Mundelein officials are taking the first steps to allwoing video gambling in the village

       A Universal Gaming Group Velocity poker gambling machine installed at the Assembly in Hoffman Estates. Mundelein officials are taking the first steps to allwoing video gambling in the village
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
 

A divided village board on Monday paved the way for video gambling machines to be added to some Mundelein businesses.

The 4-2 vote -- asking village staffers to draft an ordinance that would formally allow video gambling in town -- followed a debate about the benefits and risks of legalized gambling.

In opposing the plan, trustee Steve Lentz spoke passionately about gambling addiction.

"The social ills that come with it far outweigh the benefits," Lentz said.

He also said allowing some businesses to have gambling machines wouldn't enhance the town's image.

Lentz's only ally on the issue was trustee Ray Semple. The four other trustees -- Ed Sullivan, Jim Nutschnig, Terri Voss and Robin Meier -- favored the plan.

The trustees' discussion followed brief remarks from two local business owners and gambling industry professionals about the concept.

Jim Gochis, owner of the Fairhaven Lanes bowling alley and Chris Hintz, the owner of Mavericks Country Bar & Grill, said they want the machines in their establishments.

Gochis said he believes many of the bowlers who frequent Fairhaven Lanes will play the machines.

"Bowlers are gamblers," he said.

Hintz said she's concerned she'd lose business if Mundelein bans video gambling, since other towns in the area have greenlit the machines. Customers who want to gamble might go to bars in those towns, she said.

Both entrepreneurs insisted children wouldn't have access to the machines.

The board could vote on the ordinance requested Monday in two weeks.

Video gambling is allowed in licensed bars, restaurants, fraternal organizations and truck stops, thanks to a 2009 state law that was designed to help fund statewide public works improvements.

Village and county boards don't have to vote to legalize such gambling, but they do have to vote to ban it. Many suburban governments have taken that step, including those in Hawthorn Woods, Libertyville and Kildeer.

The Lake County Board has banned video gambling in unincorporated areas, too.

This summer, Round Lake Beach, Aurora, Pingree Grove and Carol Stream were among the towns that opted to allow video gambling.

Sugar Grove officials went the other way this summer, adopting a ban.

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