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updated: 1/15/2013 9:31 AM

West Dundee to reconsider video gambling

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West Dundee officials are starting to rethink the village's ban on video gambling and are scheduled to take another vote on the matter in February.

The village recently received a petition from local liquor license holders asking that trustees take a second look at their original decision to stay out of video gambling.

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Monday night, Village President Larry Keller said allowing it into town would level the playing field for its merchants and help them stay afloat. While most of the towns that surround the village allow video gambling, West Dundee decided against it in 2010.

"I think one of the things that happened in 2010 ... we didn't really have a lot of knowledge of what was going on ... and it was a lot easier to say no," Keller said. " ... If people are going to gamble, they're going to gamble."

There are 15 West Dundee businesses that would be eligible for video gambling and six of them want it in their establishment, Trustee Patrick Hanley said.

In 2010, the West Dundee village board opted not to allow video gambling in town because the state had not yet set up rules or regulations to govern it.

The state has established guidelines since then, and several surrounding municipalities Carpentersville, East Dundee, Gilberts, Huntley, Hampshire, Pingree Grove, Lake in the Hills, South Elgin and Hoffman Estates have opted in.

"West Dundee's almost like a deserted island," said Frank Gumma, a local terminal operator and lobbyist for video gambling. "It's got gaming all around it, and it really puts (West Dundee bar owners) at a disadvantage."

Several West Dundee business owners said the current ban could force their customers to other towns that allow it.

"Crossing the river to East Dundee doesn't take a lot of effort," said Mike Morrison, owner of The Chubby Bullfrog.

As for the other towns that don't allow it, Algonquin is waiting six months to see how video gambling affects its neighbors before board members makes a decision. And Elgin decided to keep video gambling out so as not to compete with the Grand Victoria Riverboat Casino -- Gumma is scheduled to meet with the city council later on this month.

The terminals are allowed in establishments that serve alcohol. Each place is allowed up to five terminals and Gumma estimates each one would generate $2,250.

It's too soon to tell how it's doing in East Dundee because business owners there are still waiting to get the OK from the state to order the machines.

But machines are up and running at the Assembly American Bar and Cafe Hoffman Estates, and December figures show the business received about $11,000 in video gambling profits, while Hoffman Estates received about $1,650, Gumma said.

Even so, Larry Wilbrandt, a former West Dundee trustee, doesn't think the absence of video gambling is enough to drive business away. He also said the board shouldn't do it just because other towns are.

"I think we should be very cautious and take the Algonquin approach and study it and see what the impact is in some of these towns that have already gone with it," said Wilbrandt, a trustee from 1985 to 1995. "I think we can dare to be different."

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