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posted: 5/8/2014 5:30 AM

Video gambling up for a vote again in Island Lake

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  • Chuck Cermak

      Chuck Cermak


Island Lake Trustee Chuck Cermak is again trying to persuade his peers on the village board to allow video gambling in town.

For the third time in less than a year, the board on Thursday will consider letting bars, restaurants and other businesses install the machines.

The panel initially rejected that proposal in August 2013. When it next came up for a vote this past January, trustees voted 4-3 to put the issue on the first available ballot and let voters decide.

That would be in November. A question hasn't been drafted yet.

Cermak has been the most vocal proponent of video gambling on the board. He first raised the issue in May 2012.

Since then, all of the communities around Island Lake have legalized video gambling. Because villages get a small percentage of the money generated by the machines under state law, those towns have collected thousands of dollars in gambling revenue.

Island Lake needs that cash, too, Cermak said.

"This is one way ... to bring more money into the village," he said.

Cermak also hates seeing Island Lake residents leave town to gamble in Wauconda or other neighboring communities that have legalized the activity.

"Let's just keep it here," Cermak said. "If people want to play, give them the opportunity to do it in Island Lake."

Trustees Shannon Fox and Thea Morris have sided with Cermak. But the board's three other members -- Tony Sciarrone, Keith Johns and Mark Beeson -- and Mayor Charles Amrich have opposed the effort.

The proposal on Thursday's agenda calls for the immediate legalization of video gambling in town, without a referendum.

Beeson remains a staunch opponent of local gambling. Calling the debate a social issue, he hypothetically asked if a village should allow strip clubs in town if neighboring towns did so.

Even so, Beeson said voters should settle the debate, not the trustees.

Amrich has acknowledged local businesses are at a disadvantage because video gambling isn't allowed in town. But he's also dismissed complaints from business owners and said they should find other ways to survive.

Thursday's board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave.

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