Huntley hopes to gain $100,000 from video gambling

If Illinois ever moves on video gambling, Huntley is ready.

Last week, the village passed two ordinances to let businesses with liquor licenses run a video gambling enterprise.

Officially, video gambling in Illinois became a law in 2009, but machines have not been allowed to go live while the long regulation process moves forward — state gaming board officials recently said the process could be finished as soon as August.

Counties and towns that allow gambling are expected to get 5 percent of the profit from each machine, while the state is expected to receive 25 percent of the profit. Owners and terminal operators will evenly split the rest of the money.

The village of Hampshire is also considering allowing video gambling.

Officials say Huntley could expect to see $100,000 in annual revenue from the machines.

The vote came because the American Legion petitioned the village board to let it offer video gambling within its walls, prompting the village to change its laws.

Other businesses that want video gambling will need to approach the village board in a similar fashion.

Meanwhile, Village Trustee Pam Fender says the vote makes good business sense.

One of the fears was if Huntley said no to video gambling, then a business might leave and set up shop in a town that allows it.

“The bars and restaurants are not completely recovered from a bad economy and they need help too,” Fender said.

Moreover, voting against video gambling also means symbolically rejecting the state money the village received for Route 47 improvements, she said.

“We were told at the time video gambling was going to help us pay for Route 47 and my attitude was, 'It's time to pay the piper,' ” Fender said. “We got the benefits and that's how you have to pay for it.”

About 150 communities and six counties have voted to ban video gambling within their borders.

Village Trustee Harry Leopold, the lone “no” vote last week, said Huntley should have taken similar action.

Leopold says video gambling will attract “undesirables” to the village, result in a crime spike, and that gambling gives false promises of a better life and of improving the community.

“Gambling's all around us,” Leopold said, adding that he did his own research on the subject before the vote. “You know you can buy a Lotto ticket ... that's a form of gambling. From the facts I discovered, when gambling comes in any form, it never improves the quality of life for the individuals in the community. Show me where it has.”

Leopold said he polled 110 residents on his own — 88 were from the Sun City Bridge Club and 22 of them are golfing buddies. He said 99 people didn't want gambling in town.

“I felt I had to vote according to what my reading of my neighbors and people who elected me wished,” Leopold said.

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