Video gambling discussion on hold in Palatine

Palatine village council members are standing pat on further discussion to allow video gambling at bars, restaurants and other establishments.

Council members voted 4-3 this week to table discussion on the issue. Video gambling supporters and opponents spoke before the council agreed to place the matter on hold.

Voters rejected video gambling 2,660-1,713 in an advisory referendum in April 2015, but the issue has continued percolating.

Similar to what was stated at during public comment time at a Dec. 5 meeting, representatives from American Legion Post 690, Lamplighter Inn Tavern and Grille and other establishments this week said they want the village to allow video slot machines and poker because of the extra revenue it would provide.

American Legion commander Daphne Matthews said the organization would use the gambling proceeds to help fund expanded programs for veterans and other initiatives.

"We're kind of counting on this because there is so much we want to do," Matthews told the village council.

However, video gambling opponents took to the microphone as well. United Methodist Church of Christ Pastor Keck Mowry said the machines would be "predatory gambling" that Palatine doesn't need.

Video gambling is permitted in bars, restaurants, truck stops and fraternal organizations in communities where it has been approved. Each establishment is limited to five machines, and they must be in areas accessible only to customers at least 21 years old.

Five percent of net revenue goes to a municipality and 25 percent to the state, with the terminal operator and licensed establishment splitting the remainder.

Towns have leeway on what can be charged for annual location fees as part of a license.

For example, Lake Zurich in 2014 boosted its annual fee from $250 to $2,500 after some business owners said they expected at least $100,000 yearly from the video poker and slots.

Palatine Councilman Doug Myslinski said the village could use the extra revenue, even if it's only 5 percent of the video gambling proceeds. He said the cash could pay for a police officer or firefighter.

Mayor Jim Schwantz said he understands the desire of businesses and the American Legion to gain revenue, but he's against more video gambling discussions.

"I am fundamentally opposed to anything that has to do with gambling," Schwantz said.

Barrington Hills, Lake Zurich, Hoffman Estates, Long Grove and Buffalo Grove are among the villages near Palatine allowing video gambling. The devices are not allowed in Arlington Heights, Barrington, Inverness, Deer Park, Kildeer or Rolling Meadows.

Palatine Village Manager Reid Ottesen said because the village council tabled the video gambling issue, a majority would have to agree to reverse that status during a police policy and code services committee session if the elected officials want to discuss it.

Ordinances prohibit gambling within the village, except for charitable events requiring special council approval.

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