Mundelein votes to allow video gambling

A split decision by Mundelein’s village board will allow local bars, restaurants and fraternal organizations to install video gambling machines for customers.

Trustees were divided 3-3 on the proposal Monday night. Mayor Kenneth H. Kessler broke the tie with the fourth “yes” vote.

The decision came more than two years after state lawmakers legalized video gambling but gave county and municipal boards the power to decide whether such machines should be allowed in their communities.

Mundelein officials first discussed the merits of video gambling in 2010, but the issue really came to a head this fall.

A handful of gambling foes voiced their opposition to the plan at the start of Monday’s meeting. They repeated earlier assertions about addiction, the neurological effects of gambling and its financial impacts.

“Video gambling is fool’s gold for Mundelein,” John Ramer said.

A few people spoke in favor of gambling expansion Monday, too. They included consultant and Roosevelt University professor Chuck Hamburg, who called video gambling an opportunity for Mundelein “to make some money.”

“If it doesn’t happen here, it’s going to happen somewhere else,” Hamburg said.

Trustee Steve Lentz has been the most vocal opponent of video gambling on the board, raising concerns about addiction, bankruptcy and crime. He repeated his objections Monday night, calling video gambling harmful.

Trustee Ed Sullivan has been a leading proponent of the plan, describing gambling as a matter of personal freedom at past meetings. Sullivan didn’t address the issue Monday, however, aside from urging the board to “get on with it” and vote.

Video gambling is allowed in licensed bars, restaurants, fraternal organizations and truck stops under a 2009 state law that was designed to help fund statewide public works improvements. A fraction of proceeds will go to local communities.

Trustees in Hawthorn Woods, Libertyville, Lake Zurich and Kildeer are among those that opted to ban the machines.

The Lake County Board has banned video gambling in unincorporated areas, too.

Antioch, Lake Villa, Fox Lake and Round Lake Beach are among the towns that have voted to allow video gambling.

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