Concerned about video gambling, Wauconda officials may scrutinize liquor license applications

  • Video gambling machines, like these in Oakbrook Terrace, generate revenue for suburbs that allow them at bars, restaurants and other businesses. Wauconda officials are concerned about the proliferation of the machines in town.

      Video gambling machines, like these in Oakbrook Terrace, generate revenue for suburbs that allow them at bars, restaurants and other businesses. Wauconda officials are concerned about the proliferation of the machines in town. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/17/2018 7:14 AM

Concerned about the proliferation of video gambling machines in town, Wauconda officials are investigating ways to limit future gambling expansion.

Officials are particularly wary of entrepreneurs seeking to open businesses that would offer the minimum services needed to have gambling -- which typically involves serving alcoholic drinks to customers.

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"The rule of thumb is, if it pours, it (has) games," said Rudy Magna, the village's attorney.

Trustees discussed the issue Monday night during a license and administration committee meeting.

Rather than changing Wauconda's rules for businesses offering video gambling, officials decided the best route is to more closely scrutinize any plans for businesses applying for liquor licenses.

Wauconda is known for its bars and restaurants, particularly those on or near scenic Bangs Lake. Being stingier with liquor licenses could ensure applicants aren't planning to operate gambling halls with beer taps, said Trustee Tim Howe, who leads the license committee.

"We want to encourage places that open up for more than just gambling," Howe said.

Illinois lawmakers legalized video gambling at bars, restaurants, truck stops and fraternal organizations in 2009. Wauconda trustees voted to allow the machines in 2012 and adopted local regulations for them in 2013.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Eighteen Wauconda businesses or clubs have video gambling machines.

Each site is allowed up to five machines by state law. Most in Wauconda have five, but some have fewer machines.

In total, 84 machines can be found in Wauconda.

People wagered more than $50 million on video gambling in Wauconda in 2017, Illinois Gaming Board data indicated. In addition to creating revenue for the various bar or restaurant owners, the activity generated about $199,501 in revenue for the village and about $997,509 for the state.

Monday's discussion was prompted by recent applications for gambling permits from businesses that aren't bars, restaurants, truck stops or fraternal groups, officials said. At least one came from a liquor store.

Howe said he doesn't want to allow entrepreneurs to put in beer taps simply so they can qualify for gambling machines.

The key to preventing those types of businesses, Magna said, would be to control the number of liquor licenses in town.

Trustees have the discretion to do that, Howe said.

No formal action was taken on the matter.

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