Island Lake bans new video gambling permits

  • Island Lake officials have approved a moratorium on permits for video gambling at local businesses. Here, a woman gambles at a bar in Ingleside.

      Island Lake officials have approved a moratorium on permits for video gambling at local businesses. Here, a woman gambles at a bar in Ingleside. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2014

 
 

Trying to stop the local expansion of video gambling, Island Lake officials have pledged to cease issuing permits for the machines.

Trustees approved the one-year moratorium Thursday night. Mayor Charles Amrich backed the proposal.

"We don't want any more gaming machines in town," Amrich said. "Enough is enough."

Not everyone at village hall agrees, however. Trustees Debra Jenkins and Jennifer Villarreal voted against the moratorium, which expires June 1, 2018.

"Although the village only sees a small portion of the proceeds, gaming machines produce revenues we desperately need," Jenkins said.

Island Lake officials voted to allow video gambling in town in May 2014 after months of debate. The village board was evenly divided and Amrich broke the tie.

However, in September 2015, the board tried to stop local gambling expansion by halting the issuing of liquor licenses to businesses that sell food but don't have full kitchens. That one-year ban later was extended until this October.

The move targeted video gambling parlors that offer video gambling terminals, snacks and beverages -- and little else.

But it didn't stop the machines from proliferating.

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At the time, Island Lake had two businesses offering video gambling. It now has five.

"We feel that's enough to have in the community," Amrich said. "You don't want every store to have one."

Amrich said he doesn't regret casting the 2014 tiebreaking vote that allowed video gambling in Island Lake. He thought the machines could help some local businesses that were struggling financially.

But now that some gas stations are trying to get gambling machines under a provision allowing them at truck stops of a certain size, Amrich is fed up.

"How many do you really need?" he asked.

Jenkins thinks it's a matter of fairness.

"If a new bar were to open in town, it's my opinion they should be afforded the same opportunity as our existing businesses," she said.

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