Libertyville village leaders will consider reversing a ban on video gambling enacted five years ago when the activity was new and the potential affect on communities was still uncertain.
Video gambling since has become a well-known commodity that local bar owners think can help their bottom line. With no reported ill effects from towns that allow it, Libertyville trustees appear ready to get in the game.
"I consider gambling to be a tax on people who don't understand statistics," Trustee Rich Moras said Tuesday during a discussion of the board's license and permit committee's recommendation to put it to a vote.
"I also believe the government shouldn't be involved in protecting us from ourselves."
In October 2009, three months after the state law authorizing video gambling took effect, Libertyville trustees opted out and voted to prohibit video gambling. The local ordinance listed the "potential for corruption, impact on the costs of law enforcement, regulatory difficulties and high social costs" as potential issues associated with the practice.
"There were also many unknowns at that point," Village Administrator Kevin Bowens said Wednesday. "I think there was hesitancy in Libertyville and other towns."
The license and permits committee this July considered the matter at the suggestion of Ed Downing, owner of Downing's Tavern, 431 S. Milwaukee Ave.
"When I saw people were doing very well with it, I said, 'Why can't we have it in Libertyville?' Downing said Tuesday. "I've got an area that works perfect for it."
Video gambling is allowed at licensed businesses where liquor is served on premises, at truck stops and at fraternal or veterans establishments.
Village trustees learned there were no police calls or complaints related to video gambling in area towns that allow it, including Antioch, Lake Villa, Mundelein, Round Lake and Waukegan.
"My biggest concern is signage," Trustee Drew Cullum said.
"If we approve video gaming, we can simply say there is no exterior signage," Mayor Terry Weppler replied. He noted any establishments that violated the rules could lose their liquor license.
Trustees also learned that as a non-home-rule community, Libertyville is limited in the license fee amount it can charge.
Trustees directed Bowens to prepare an ordinance to repeal the ban and allow video gambling, which is expected to be considered Sept. 23. The ordinance will include provisions that limit or ban exterior signs and prohibit "stand-alone" gaming parlors, Bowens said.
The most recent report from the Illinois Gaming Board showed 208 terminals in 47 establishments operating in Lake County. Bowens said he expected five to 10 might apply in Libertyville.
Brian Grano, owner of Mickey Finn's Brewery, 345 N. Milwaukee Ave., told the village board Libertyville has doubled its night life in recent years and become a destination for bars and restaurants. He said he hasn't decided whether he would pursue a video gambling license but considered it among the ways to help businesses.
"I would want that as a choice, as a club in my bag to use," he said.