There won't be a ban on new video gambling locations in Lake County

A proposed ban on new video gambling locations in unincorporated Lake County has been defeated and is unlikely to be considered again.

The defeat comes despite nine county board members voting in favor of the ban, compared to eight opposing it. That's because four members voted present and, under board rules, those votes were counted with the opponents.

"I definitely do not think it will resurface," said board Chairwoman Sandy Hart, who opposes gambling and advanced the proposal.

Considered by supporters as a push back against expanded state gambling laws, the outcome Tuesday came after hours of discussion, extensive review by the Lake County State's Attorney's office and a late change meant to sway those on the fence.

The state issues video gambling licenses and while Lake County can't regulate the number of video gambling machines in unincorporated areas, an establishment that wants them must have a liquor license. The initial plan would have removed the ability of the holder of a county-issued liquor license to apply to the state for video gambling machines.

Supporters argued more video gambling machines would lead to an increase in problem gambling. Opponents, including those involved in the gambling industry, said the move would be illegal and open the county to legal action.

The proposal would have applied only to future licensing. Current license holders would be allowed to continue. Any change would have had no effect on municipalities, which make their own rules.

Though it would have represented a relatively small change in the overall gambling landscape, Hart and others believe the county should impose whatever limits it can, especially with the general proliferation of video gambling.

"I think it's gotten out of control. All I want to do is slow it down," said board member Linda Pedersen of Antioch, who represents the largest unincorporated area of any of the 21 board members. She said 53 of the 81 establishments with video gambling under county jurisdiction are in her district.

In the middle were bar owners who said they rely on the gambling revenue and were uncertain about what would happen if they had to close for a time or wanted to sell the business. They also argued that people who want to gamble will find a place regardless.

A change to the proposal added Tuesday would have allowed current liquor license holders who do not have video gambling today to apply for the machines in the future if they chose.

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