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Waukegan Casino Bound by Uncertainty as Tuesday’s Election Unlikely to Bring Gambling Supporters More Seats

Even though no final results from the Lake County election have been announced yet, current numbers suggest that the new Waukegan City Council will remain largely the same, at least with regards to the support for a casino. According to unofficial election results, at least four of the nine future city councilors have received backing from an action committee with gambling interests.

The Lake County Clerk’s Office has just provided unofficial numbers from the ballot on Tuesday and although the results are not final, they are expected to remain the same. The mail-in ballots that are yet to be added will not be sufficient to change the current picture, according to the Chicago Tribune. The paper published preliminary results, according to which the next Waukegan City Council would include the same number of Republicans, Democrats, and independents as the last one.

Four of the nine members of the Council, which is set to take office on May 6, would be newcomers, while five of them would be incumbents. More importantly, the Council would consist of at least four members who have been supported by a group lobbying for video gambling in the city, the Waukegan Voter Alliance.

According to the official statement filed in the Illinois State Board of Elections, this is a political action committee established on January 2, 2019, and funded by the Waukegan Democratic Organization, Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham, and by several video gambling organizations, namely Video Gaming United PAC, J & J Ventures Gaming, LLC, Tap Room Amusement, LLC, and Tap Room Gaming LLC.

The current winners in the election include Sylvia Sims Bolton in the 1st Ward, incumbent Patrick Seger in the 2nd, incumbent Greg Moisio in the 3rd, Democrat Roudell Kirkwood in the 4th, incumbent Edith “Edie” Newsome in the 5th, Democrat Keith Turner in the 6th, independent Felix Rivera in the 7th, Democrat Lynn Florian in the 8th, and incumbent Ann Taylor in the 9th.

No Decision for the Casino for 16 Years

The local community in the City of Waukegan, Lake County, seem to be divided on the idea of a casino. Sixteen years ago, the city purchased the Fountain Square property for one specific reason – to develop a new gambling facility. Currently, Illinois has 10 casinos but none of them is located in Waukegan as such facilities are still not authorized in Lake County.

In order for the city to get a casino on the Fountain Square property, the General Assembly would need to approve a bill that would allow the addition of more Illinois Gaming Board licenses. To to be passed as law, such a bill would also need approval from the Governor.

Last year, the City Council placed certain restrictions on the opening of new video gambling cafés. According to the legislation, facilities that apply for new video gambling licenses would have to be located at least 1,500 feet from each other. In addition, operators would have to pay a higher fee – for each machine, they would be charged a $1,500 fee compared to the previous cost of $1,500 per game.

 Author: Hannah Wallace

Hannah Wallace has been part of our team since the website was launched. She has a master’s degree in IT.