Huntley imposes moratorium on video gambling

Huntley has imposed a moratorium on allowing new video gambling establishments until Jan. 1 so officials can prepare regulations now that the village has home-rule powers.

Video gambling venues have been allowed in town since June 2012. But without home-rule authority, which gives broader lawmaking and taxation powers, the village could not then impose rules more restrictive than what is allowed by state law.

The 2009 Video Gaming Act, allows establishments with liquor licenses allowing consumption on premises, including truck stops and fraternal groups such as veterans' clubs, to apply for video gambling licenses. The Illinois Gaming Board established a licensing fee of $25 per terminal and set a maximum of five terminals per establishment, which Huntley has followed until now.

Huntley's latest population count is 26,632 residents following a special census completed earlier this year - surpassing the 25,000 population limit that automatically grants Illinois municipalities home-rule authority.

That allows village officials room to consider new video gambling regulations, such as limiting the number of terminals per establishment, restricting eligible uses, regulating signage, establishing square footage requirements, and increasing licensing fees, Village Manager Dave Johnson said.

"Now, as a home-rule community, the village has the ability to require a local video gaming license in addition to a liquor license," Johnson said.

At present, 13 establishments have video gambling licenses for a total of 58 terminals. Those operators could qualify for exemptions from new regulations, if officials so choose, Johnson said.

Huntley is looking to neighboring towns with home-rule powers that have varying video gambling regulations for guidance on drafting its ordinance.

Algonquin, which has allowed video gambling since 2013, does not limit the number of terminals, but limits licenses to establishments that primarily sell food cooked or prepared on-site. The village has 11 licensed video gambling establishments with 51 terminals total. It charges $500 per terminal, and a $1,000 terminal operator fee.

Crystal Lake adopted a video gambling ordinance in April setting a limit of three terminals per establishment. Only bars and restaurants are eligible, while fraternal organizations and truck stops are prohibited from getting licenses. The village has four licensed establishments with 12 terminals total, and five more licenses have been approved by the state, which would add 15 terminals. The village charges $500 per terminal, a $1,000 yearly video gambling license fee, a $100 special liquor license fee, and a $1,000 operator fee.

Lake in the Hills places terminal restrictions on establishments based on square footage. The village has eight licensed establishments with 34 terminals total. It charges $500 per terminal and $300 for a special liquor license.

Those towns also have different signage and screening requirements to prohibit anyone 21 and younger from accessing the terminals.

  Huntley American Legion Post 67 is one spot with video gambling machines. Village officials are considering new regulations and fees now that they have home-rule authority. Brian Hill/
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