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updated: 3/25/2013 5:30 PM

Sugar Grove American Legion gets video gambling license

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The Sugar Grove American Legion post was granted a license for video gambling last week from the Illinois Video Gambling Board.

Whether the post will have machines operating before an April 9 advisory referendum on video gambling has not been determined, according to Cliff Barker, a spokesman for the post on the gambling issue and chaplain for its Sons of the American Legion auxiliary.

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Members of the Legion, its Ladies Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion asked the village board in January to reverse a ban on video gambling. They said the survival of the post was at stake.

The board agreed, but also put a referendum on the ballot asking residents whether they want video gambling. Although it is advisory and not legally binding, several trustees said they would abide by the results of the vote either way. Several candidates for trustee have also said so.

Members of the post and its auxiliaries have said it is struggling financially, and that in recent months revenue from its bar and its dinners has declined, with people instead going to nearby taverns just outside the city limits that have video gambling. The post has pull-tab gambling.

Its IRS Form 990 income tax return for 2011 showed the post had gross income of $229,397 and expenses of $177,171. It was the second consecutive year revenue exceeded expenses. But in 2009 and 2008, the post's spending exceeded revenue by $20,095 and $23,732, respectively. The returns were posted on guidestar.org, which publishes information about nonprofit organizations.

The post applied for the license last summer when the state began taking applications. In September Sugar Grove banned video gambling.

Trustee Kevin Geary, who is running for village president, has not taken a stand for or against video gambling; he has said he will abide by the wishes of the voters, and it was he who first suggested a referendum. If Geary loses the election, he will still be a trustee.

His opponent, President Sean Michels, supports video gambling. But, "I would take a look at it (the referendum) and see what the results are," Michels said. "We want to make it worth people's while to vote."

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