Island Lake board rejects video gambling with 4-3 vote

Updated 8/23/2013 4:54 PM

Island Lake residents who like video poker or slot machines will have to leave town if they want to try their luck.

Officials on Thursday voted against allowing bars and other establishments to install and operate video gambling machines.


Trustees were divided 3-3 on the issue. Mayor Charles Amrich broke the tie by voting against allowing the devices in town.

Amrich sided with political allies Mark Beeson, Keith Johns and Tony Sciarrone. Trustees Chuck Cermak, Shannon Fox and Thea Morris were on the losing side.

On Friday, Amrich said his mind wasn't made up on the issue until he heard from residents who opposed the proposal at the meeting.

"I could've went either way on it," he said. "But I didn't hear anyone for it."

Cermak had been the leading proponent of video gambling. He said he'd been approached by local business owners who wanted to increase revenue through gambling.

"Am I disappointed? Of course," he told the Daily Herald. "There's a few businesses that need that extra boost."

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 5-percent cut of proceeds goes to the local community.

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Each establishment is limited to five machines, and they must be in areas accessible only to people at least 21 years old.

Under the law, municipal boards can vote to outlaw video gambling. Some Lake County towns, including Libertyville and Hawthorn Woods, have gone that route.

Video gambling is allowed in Wauconda, McHenry and unincorporated areas of Lake and McHenry counties -- the communities that surround Island Lake.

That geographic reality was important to Morris.

"I just think that it's going to allow our businesses to compete with the other businesses," she said Friday.

Beeson said the board shouldn't greenlight video gambling just because neighboring towns allow it.

"I just don't think it's something we need for our family-oriented town," he said Friday.

Beeson also criticized the percentage the village would collect from the machines, saying it's not big enough.

"We get the scraps for bringing this into our town," he said.

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