Island Lake moves to halt gambling expansion

 
 

Concerned about the potential expansion of video gambling, Island Lake officials have halted issuing liquor licenses to businesses that sell food but don't have full kitchens.

The move aims to prevent a local incursion of video gambling parlors that have sprouted up across Illinois in recent years. Such businesses typically offer video gambling terminals, snacks and beverages -- and little else.

"We want these places to (have) something to offer residents other than gaming," Trustee Mark Beeson said.

The board approved the moratorium Thursday without opposition. Trustee Sandy Hartogh was absent.

The ban expires Oct. 1, 2016.

As of August, two Island Lake businesses were licensed to have video gambling machines, according to Illinois Gaming Board records. The agency's website identifies the companies as Crystal Cuisine and JD3 Entertainment.

Crystal Cuisine is the corporate name for Sofia's Place, 640 E. State Road, records indicate. The business has three video game terminals.

JD3 Entertainment is the corporate name for 3-D Bowl and Sideouts Bar, 4018 W Roberts Road. It has five gambling terminals.

Additionally, village hall has received many inquiries from entrepreneurs who want to open gambling parlors in town, Beeson said. And he's not fond of that kind of operation.

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"We want (there to be) another reason you're going there," Beeson said.

The moratorium gives officials time to debate whether they want such businesses in town, Beeson said.

Video gambling has been a controversial issue in Island Lake.

The village board agreed to allow businesses to operate video gambling machines in May 2014 after months of heated debate.

Mayor Charles Amrich cast the deciding vote, breaking a 3-3 tie. It was a major policy reversal for Amrich, who previously had staunchly opposed gambling in town.

Amrich said he changed his mind because of the potential revenue for business and the village, which has struggled financially for years.

Towns are supposed to get a small cut of revenue from the machines, but Village Clerk Jen Gomez said state officials haven't sent Island Lake a check in three months.

"We don't know what kind of funds are generating from any of the establishments that have gaming," Gomez said.

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