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updated: 5/14/2014 5:18 AM

DuPage businesses seek repeal of video gambling ban

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  • Bensenville Park District officials and several business owners have asked DuPage County to consider repealing its ban on video gambling in unincorporated areas.

      Bensenville Park District officials and several business owners have asked DuPage County to consider repealing its ban on video gambling in unincorporated areas.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

Nearly five years after DuPage became the first county in Illinois to prohibit video gambling machines, some businesses and a park district are asking for the ban to be repealed.

County board Chairman Dan Cronin said he has heard from the owners of several bars and restaurants who would like to offer video gambling to their patrons.

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Those businesses can't get machines because of DuPage's ban, which affects 28 restaurants, bars and golf courses in unincorporated parts of the county.

On Tuesday, officials with Bensenville Park District joined the business owners in asking county board members to consider lifting the ban.

John Wassinger, president of the Bensenville park board, said the district would like the opportunity to put machines at its White Pines Golf Course.

"We continually look for alternative revenue-generating sources," he said. "Whether or not the board would embrace this as one of those potentials, I cannot tell you because it has not been discussed."

Illinois legalized video gambling in 2009. But towns and counties were able to opt out. DuPage enacted its ban in August 2009 after officials cited possible social problems.

Initially, towns throughout DuPage followed the county's lead. But some municipalities recently have lifted their bans. Lombard village board members, for example, are expected to vote next month on a possible repeal of their ban.

"Given time and doing studies into what's happened in other places, they have allowed this (video gambling) to happen," Wassinger said. "The county is kind of one of the last holdouts."

Cronin said he just wants to make county board members aware of the request from the business owners. It will be up to the board to determine whether it revisits the video gambling issue.

"I don't know whether the board members have the interest or the appetite to take this matter up," Cronin said. "We ultimately would have to repeal an ordinance that they enacted. So it's up to them. I defer to the board members."

Meanwhile, Wassinger said, Bensenville park officials have seen neighboring towns allow video gambling machines.

"It hasn't had a negative impact on us," he said. "I don't think we'll lose customers. But if there is a revenue source that we feel would be responsible and worthwhile ... we should be able to do that."

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