A proposed ban on additional licensing of video gaming terminals (VGTs) in unincorporated areas of Lake County has been rejected and is unlikely to be taken into consideration again.
The measure’s failure comes in spite of the fact that nine county board members voted “yes”, compared to eight ones who voted to oppose the ban. The defeat came because four members voted present, which under the existing board rules means that those votes were counted with the opposing ones.
The Board’s Chair Sandy Hart, who is against gambling and was the one who advanced the proposed ban, explained that she sees hardly any chance for the measure to appear again.
The final vote took place yesterday, after hours of discussion, extensive review provided by the State Attorney’s office in Lake County and a late change aimed at helping the ones who have been still hesitating how to vote. The proposed measure has been considered a response to the expanded state gambling legislation.
For the time being, the state of Illinois issues video gambling licenses. The city of Lake County is unable to regulate the number of VGTs in so-called unincorporated areas, but establishments that apply for such a license are required to have a liquor license. The initial proposal would have stripped holders of county-issued liquor licenses to apply to the competent Illinois authorities for permission to offer video gambling terminals to their customers.
Measure’s Supporters Say VGTs Would Boost Problem Gambling Rates
According to supporters of the ban, VGTs would result in an increase in gambling addiction rates in the city. On the other hand, opponents of the ban, including representatives of the local gambling sector, said such a move would be illegal and would make way for legal action in the county.
If the proposal was approved, it would have applied only to future licensing. Current video gambling license holders would be permitted to continue offering their services. In addition, local municipalities would have not been affected by the ban, as they are able to forge their own rules.
Despite the fact that the proposed ban would have been a relatively small change in the bigger picture, the Board’s Chair and others believe that Lake County should roll out whatever limits it can, especially in terms of video gambling considering the latter’s expanding popularity. Linda Pedersen, who is one of the board members, shared that in her opinion things have gotten out of control and it was high time for the process of gambling sector’s expansion to slow down. Ms. Pedersen, who currently represents the biggest unincorporated area in Lake County, further noted that 53 of the 81 establishments which offer VGTs under the jurisdiction of the county are situated in her district.
Local bar owners, however, have claimed they rely on the gambling revenue generated by controversial video gambling machines and they were uncertain what the effects would be in case the measure was approved.