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updated: 1/8/2013 11:29 PM

Sugar Grove board reverses ban on video gambling

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Sugar Grove reversed its ban on video gambling Tuesday night.

It also will ask residents their opinions about the matter in an advisory referendum April 9.

Trustees Kevin Geary and Tom Renk voted "no" to allowing video gambling. Geary said doing so was "putting the cart before the horse," and that the board should wait for the results of the referendum. Geary said he would abide by whatever the voters say.

But trustees David Paluch and Rick Montalto, who voted against video gambling in September, voted "yes" this time.

Trustee Mari Johnson voted against having a referendum; she previously stated people elect trustees to make decisions and that the board should do so on video gambling just as it does on myriad other matters, including projects that cost millions of dollars.

About 40 people attended Tuesday's meeting. Some spoke for, and some against, allowing video gambling.

Two pastors, a representative of the Illinois Family Institute Christian nonprofit group, and Kathy Gilroy, an anti-gambling advocate, spoke against it on moral grounds, saying the earnings it might bring could be more than offset by its social costs, such as gambling addiction.

Several residents, including county board member Melisa Taylor, asked the board to wait until after a referendum is conducted. So did the Rev. Keith Duff, executive pastor of Village Bible Church of Sugar Grove. The church opposes gambling.

Supporters and representatives of the Sugar Grove American Legion post pleaded again for the post to be allowed to have video gambling now, instead of waiting until after an April 9 vote. Post Adjutant Dave Smith said the Legion post is hurting financially, losing business from its bar and fish fries to nearby towns and unincorporated areas that allow video gambling. The post does offer pull-tab gambling.

"The only thing it (allowing the gambling) means to me is the Sugar Grove American Legion survives another 10 or 15 years. Right now, we are on a bad, bad economical downturn," Smith said.

"You can't put a bubble over Sugar Grove, and can't pretend our residents won't gamble; they just won't gamble here," said Cliff Barker, chaplain for the Sons of the American Legion auxiliary.

Duff said Village Bible Church would be willing to give the Legion post $2,000 a month for three months, to get the post through April, if that is what it would take to postpone the board's vote on video gambling.

Geary's motion to table the vote on video gambling failed 4-3. Village President Sean Michels was not required to vote on the matter but did.

Barker said the post could have the machines installed by the end of the month. The state has already approved its application and reviewed the facility, he said.

Gambling: Church willing to give Legion post $2,000 a month to put off vote

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