Elgin council affirms ban on video gambling

Casino a factor in decision

Elgin City Council members decided to maintain a ban on video gambling Wednesday, meaning eligible organizations will not be able to apply for licenses from the state gaming board.

The council tabled discussion of its ordinance prohibiting the machines at the June 13 council meeting pending more information from the video gambling industry and local stakeholders.

Because of ordinances already in place, council members did not need to take a vote Wednesday, but no one spoke out in favor of allowing video gambling.

Councilman Richard Dunne did support a resolution urging state legislators to amend its statutes and allow separate consideration for nonprofits and fraternal organizations. The Elgin United Civics Association is working to draft a letter to the state asking for special permitting opportunities.

“I do support that letter and ask we give a resolution to support that,” Dunne said.

City Manager Sean Stegall indicated such a resolution could be ready by the next city council meeting.

The Illinois legislature passed the Video Gaming Act in 2009 allowing gambling machines in licensed bars or restaurants that serve alcohol, fraternal organizations, veteran organizations and licensed truck stops as part of the Illinois Jobs Now capital bill.

Municipalities wishing to prohibit the machines have had to opt out of the law by passing their own ordinances banning video gambling. Elgin’s existing ordinances meant their consensus to maintain the ban was enough.

“For communities that do not already have a casino within their borders, this might make a little more sense,” said Councilwoman Tish Powell about allowing the machines. “Us having the Grand Victoria here, I don’t think it makes sense … This isn’t Vegas.”

Councilman John Prigge also referenced the Grand Victoria Casino, which has cited an industry study projecting a 2 to 3 percent revenue drop if video gambling were allowed. Prigge said loyalty is a “two-way street,” and while pleas from restaurants, bars and fraternal organizations were compelling, he could not support expanding gambling in town.

“I don’t know that I can do it at the expense of what has been a savior to us for 18 years,” Prigge said.

Ban: Study projected 2 to 3 percent revenue drop for casino

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