Campton Hills trustees say yes to video gambling

Campton Hills trustees Tuesday night voted 4-3 to allow video gambling in the village for a nearly two-year trial period, with outgoing Village President Harry Blecker breaking the tie.

"It's important for us to become business-friendly," said Blecker, who did not seek a second term as president and will leave office next month. "The only way thing that's going to keep the village going in the next five, 10 years is to be business-friendly. It's not for me to pass my morality on to other people."

The move followed months of contentious discussion and an April 2 nonbinding ballot question on which 54 percent of voters also supported a ban.

"One can be pro-business and yet be opposed to the introduction of gambling in the community," said Trustee Michael Tyrrell, who voted no.

Tyrrell, who will be sworn in as village president next month, said only three restaurant owners out of 93 businesses in the village favored it, but "video gambling is not a guarantee, not an insurance policy for business success."

Trustees Susan George and Michael O'Dwyer voted no; trustees Nick Girka, Wendy White Eagle and Mike Millett voted in favor of permitting video gambling, forcing Blecker, who only votes to break a tie, to cast the deciding vote. The trial period will expire at the end of March 31, 2021.

Before the vote, trustees heard from numerous residents, many of whom opposed video gambling.

Melynda Litchfield, a St. Charles resident and National Victim's Advocate for Stop Predatory Gambling, a nonprofit group based out of Washington, D.C., argued against video gambling.

Litchfield, a former emergency room nurse and recovering gambling addict, said video slot machines are the "crack-cocaine" of gambling.

"It's a fantastic business model, and the gambling industry has perfected it," said Litchfield, who said a person at a bar will be cut off for drinking too much but there are no safeguards for gambling addicts. "This addiction has the largest rate of suicide (20 percent) of any addiction."

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