Gurnee goes through with video gambling ban

Gurnee has become the latest town to prohibit the installation of video gambling devices in bars and other businesses.

Village board trustees voted 5-0 Monday night in favor of an ordinance banning video gambling. At least 77 communities and four counties have such a ban.

“When we put the moratorium basically in place, we had concerns with on how this would impact our community,” Mayor Kristina Kovarik said. “We’re very family-oriented. We’re very tourist-focused, but tourist on family activities and that.”

In September 2009, Gurnee officials agreed to pursue an ordinance similar to what Buffalo Grove had approved. In essence, Gurnee banned video gambling until village officials approved a local law expressly prohibited installation of the devices.

Gurnee officials had said the village wanted time to see how the Illinois Gaming Board shapes the video gambling rules before determining whether to pursue an outright ban.

Kovarik said Monday night was the right time to approve the ban because some Gurnee businesses recently have been contacted by machine vendors.

Municipalities such as Gurnee and counties controlling unincorporated areas are allowed to ban the machines. But that means not receiving a 5 percent take on gambling revenue at bars, clubs and restaurants, possibly losing out on thousands of dollars annually.

Village projections showed an establishment with a maximum of five machines could produce $11,250 for Gurnee annually.

“There is some revenue to them,” Kovarik said. “There is some revenue to us. But is it worth selling your soul and how hard we worked on our image to be family-focused to throw it away for a few thousand dollars?” Video gambling was part of a package of revenue generators for a $31 billion public works initiative signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn in July 2009.

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