Palatine village council still says no to video gambling in town

A decade after video gambling was approved statewide, Palatine village council members decided Monday to keep the town's prohibition in place.

More than 60% of Palatine voters rejected video gambling in an April 2015 advisory referendum, but the issue has resurfaced since then, with bar and restaurant owners periodically returning to the council to ask for permission to install the machines.

Councilmen agreed last January to formally restart discussions that had been tabled since June 2017, and in May they reviewed potential fees, licensing and other proposed regulations for the establishments.

But on Monday, only one member of the six-member council, Doug Myslinski, voted for a proposed ordinance and associated fee structure that would put video gambling in place. And though he would vote only in the case of a tie, Mayor Jim Schwantz also has stated his opposition to the practice.

Councilman Brad Helms, who represents District 6 that includes the downtown, had mixed feelings and sought a possible two-year trial. He said video gambling could help struggling bar owners stay afloat amid a difficult business landscape, all the while still wanting to preserve Palatine's "hometown feel."

But he and other councilmen, along with the village staff, agreed it might be difficult legally and practically to allow video gambling, then take it away. Long Grove and St. Charles initially had trial runs, but both towns later decided to make it permanent.

Rolling Meadows and Mount Prospect last year approved video gambling within their borders, joining other Northwest suburban towns including Buffalo Grove, Hoffman Estates, Lake Zurich, Prospect Heights and Wheeling. The devices are not permitted in Arlington Heights, Barrington, Deer Park, Inverness or Kildeer.

Bars, restaurants, truck stops and fraternal organizations in communities that allow video gambling can have up to five machines under the state law that was approved in 2009.

Five percent of net revenue goes to a municipality and 25% to the state, with the terminal operator and establishment splitting the remainder. The proposed Palatine ordinance called for establishments to pay $5,676 for a special video gambling liquor license in addition to a $1,500 annual fee per gambling terminal.

• Daily Herald staff writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.

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