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updated: 7/25/2013 7:39 PM

Roselle may lift video gambling ban

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More than three years after outlawing video gambling machines, the Roselle village board is ready to lift the ban.

But bars, restaurants and a veterans establishment in town likely will have to meet several local requirements before they can install the machines.

Board members this week directed staff to include specific conditions in a proposed local law. If that ordinance is ready next month, the board will vote to repeal the village's video gambling ban.

"We've set up some parameters for how we're going to allow it," Mayor Gayle Smolinski said.

Smolinski stressed the village board didn't adopt a ban in December 2009 because it was opposed to gambling.

Instead, the driving force behind the ban was the number of unanswered questions about how Illinois was going to implement and regulate video gambling, which the state legalized in 2009 to raise $31 billion for capital improvements.

"We weren't sure what the state was going to come up with," Smolinski said.

Now that the Illinois Gaming Board has its rules and regulations for video gambling, the mayor said, "we feel comfortable moving ahead."

The requirements the village is looking to impose would ensure video gambling machines are only installed by establishments that have liquor licenses that allow consumption of alcohol on the premises. To qualify, such establishments must have had their license for at least a year and can't have a liquor control ordinance violation on their record.

The proposal also calls for establishments with machines to digitally record their video gambling area.

Smolinski said part of the reason for the requirements is to discourage "gambling cafes" from opening in town. The cafes offer a limited menu just so they can have the gambling machines.

"We didn't feel that was fair to our current liquor license holders who have been part of our community for years," Smolinski said.

Seventeen liquor license holders in Roselle would be eligible for video gambling machines as part of the proposed rules, officials said.

Jason Bielawski, assistant village administrator, said he knows of only one Roselle bar that has applied with the state to get machines. No more than five machines are allowed in any one establishment.

Counties and municipalities that allow video gambling receive 5 percent of each machine's profit. The state takes 25 percent, while establishment owners and the terminal operators evenly split the rest.

Research shows one machine can generate between $1,500 to $2,000 annually in local tax revenue, Bielawski said.

At this point, however, it's unclear how much gambling revenue Roselle could receive.

"Until we have a better understanding of the true experiences in Roselle and businesses actually get this up and running," Bielawski said, "I don't think we're going to be banking on taking in a lot of revenue."

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