East Dundee board approves video gaming, overturns ban
By Erin Sauder For The Courier-News October 2, 2012 10:02AM
Updated: November 4, 2012 6:13AM
EAST DUNDEE — Several local business owners are breathing a sigh of relief thanks to the village board’s decision to overturn a ban on video gambling.
The measure passed 4-3 Monday night, with Trustees Robert Gorman, Jeff Lynam and Allen Skillicorn voting against the measure.
Before the vote, several board members weighed in on the issue.
Trustee Michael Ruffulo said allowing gaming would put East Dundee on a level playing field with surrounding towns that already have made it legal for video gambling in their towns.
“Let’s not kid ourselves: East Dundee is a destination spot for a lot of our taverns and bars,” he said. “People may go somewhere else if they can’t get this amenity.”
Area towns that already have legalized video gaming include Carpentersville, Gilberts, Hampshire, Huntley, Pingree Grove and South Elgin.
State legislation passed in 2009 allows certain establishments to operate video poker machines and similar electronic games of chance — with local governmental approval. The law limits machines to bars and restaurants with a valid liquor license, truck stops, and fraternal or veteran groups.
Businesses will be able to operate up to five machines each and must put them in a spot inaccessible to patrons under 21. They also must be kept from outside view.
The act calls for the gaming vendor and the host establishment to each get 35 percent of each machine’s profits, with the state getting 25 percent and the host municipality 5 percent.
Trustee Lael Miller said the village has to do what is best for both business owners and residents.
“And this goes a long way toward helping the business owners, and I don’t think it does any harm to residents,” he said.
The issue is not new to East Dundee. In an advisory referendum on Feb. 2, 2010, the majority of voters in the village voted to prohibit video gambling — 239-180. The village board listened to its constituents and passed an ordinance forbidding the practice within the town limits.
Trustees Lynam and Skillicorn said that referendum vote is why they were concerned about allowing video gambling in the village now.
“We’re being asked to reverse an ordinance based on the voice of the people,” he said. “Once we do that, it’s a dangerous plank to walk, and I’m not willing to walk it.”
“The idea of betting against our residents so bar owners can make more money or the village can make more money puts us in a real bad spot, and I don’t want to be in that position,” Skillicorn said. “I don’t think people are going to be flooding to Carpentersville if we don’t allow this.”
Several business owners attended Monday’s meeting but opted not to speak. They were visibly pleased after the vote was taken. At last week’s committee of the whole meeting, they urged the village board to give them an opportunity to make money by allowing video gambling.
“If we don’t have it, they’ll go elsewhere. We need your help,” said Richard Calendo, owner of Calendo’s Corner.
The state is testing the devices in some northern Illinois establishments, and final approval for the communities where they will be allowed is expected later this year.