Huntley to ban 'sweepstakes' machines

Huntley won't be allowing village businesses to install electronic sweepstakes machines.

Village trustees Thursday night signaled their desire to prohibit the machines entirely, similar to bans enacted by a few other suburban communities, including Mount Prospect, Mundelein, Niles and Oak Park.

Sweepstakes kiosks look similar to video gambling machines, but they are not regulated as gambling devices because they do not dispense cash. Customers can play using cash or for free, but instead of giving cash payouts, the machines dispense coupons that can be redeemed for products, cash or chances to win prizes with the purchase of a product or service.

The machines have been popping up in suburban gas stations, coin-operated laundries and convenience stores with local officials often caught unawares of their existence. Their proliferation also has irked the state gambling board, which is concerned about the machines' similarities to regulated video gambling machines.

"I'm worried about the control, supervision, placement with the other machines we allow," said Huntley Trustee Harry Leopold, adding that he preferred the machines be banned entirely instead of the village attempting to regulate them.

Trustee JR Westberg said typically these sweepstakes machines end up in businesses that could not receive a video gambling license.

Huntley now has two sweepstakes kiosks at a Mobil gas station off Route 47 near Del Webb's Sun City active adult community, and one other business has inquired about installing them. Village board members suggested there might be a way to grandfather the Mobil station's machines.

Unlike licensed video gambling, which Illinois legalized in 2012, sweepstakes-machine operators don't have to share revenues collected from the devices with the state or local communities. Their transactions and payouts aren't recorded or publicly reported as are those of video gambling machines.

The Illinois Gaming Board considers them "illegal gambling devices," though state law doesn't specifically prohibit sweepstakes machines. The gambling board has supported past legislative attempts to declare electronic sweepstakes machines illegal.

"We should wait until the state comes out with something definitive," Trustee Ronda Goldman said.

Village Manager Dave Johnson said the village staff will draft an ordinance prohibiting sweepstakes machines to be adopted at a May meeting.

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  Huntley village officials agreed to ban electronic sweepstakes machines. Two sweepstakes machines already are installed at the Mobil gas station off Route 47 at Village Green. Patrick Kunzer/
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