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updated: 1/10/2014 10:28 AM

Island Lake officials reconsidering video gambling

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  • Video: Amrich Talks Gambling

  • Charles Amrich

    Charles Amrich


If a discussion Thursday night was any indication, Island Lake trustees are leaning toward repealing a ban on video gambling machines at bars and other businesses in town.

The board didn't take any action, which means the ban it enacted last year still stands. But a new vote could be called Jan. 23.

Trustees and Mayor Charles Amrich are reconsidering the issue because the machines have been popping up in communities all around Island Lake and are generating money for businesses and municipal coffers.

The board voted 4-3 in August to keep video gambling out of town. Amrich voted last and broke the trustees' tie.

On Thursday, Amrich and other officials who originally supported the ban indicated they now lean the other way to help local businesses.

In an interview with the Daily Herald before Thursday's board meeting, Amrich acknowledged local businesses are at a disadvantage because video gambling isn't allowed.

"Surely we want to try to help the businesses in town survive and prosper," Amrich said.

Trustee Keith Johns took a similar stance during the meeting.

"I would really like to see those businesses succeed," said Johns, who cast one of the four "no" votes last year.

Trustees Mark Beeson and Tony Sciarrone voted for the ban last year, too. Trustees Chuck Cermak, Shannon Fox and Thea Morris were on the losing side.

Two people in the audience spoke in favor of allowing gambling machines during a public-comment section at the start of Thursday's meeting.

One, Eduardo Collazo, is a local resident who owns Chiquita Food and Liquor in town. He said video gambling isn't all that different from the lottery tickets he sells in his store.

"To me, gambling is gambling," Collazo said.

Additionally, Collazo said video gambling machines would help create revenue for businesses and the village. Towns get a small percentage of gambling revenue under state law.

"It seems to me like it's free money," Collazo said.

The other proponent in the audience was William Teasley, a Cary resident who said he's considering opening a bar in Island Lake.

He said the board's stance on video gambling will affect his decision.

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

Each establishment is limited to five machines, and they must be in areas accessible only to people at least 21 years old.

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