Majority of board says no to video gambling

By on August 21, 2009

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—A majority of trustees want to ban video gambling in Elburn. So although a new state law would allow the activity, it will not be coming to Elburn while the current board is in place, unless one of the opposing trustees changes his, or her, mind.

Following its second discussion in a week about whether to allow video gambling in Elburn, the Village Board on Monday voted against it. The board then directed the village attorney to draft an ordinance banning video gambling in the village.

Only one trustee, Jerry Schmidt, voted in favor of allowing video gambling in the village, saying it would be a pro-growth measure.

“If we ban it in Elburn and they have it in other towns, people are going to go there instead,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said video gambling also would boost the village budget through tax revenue it would produce.

Voting to ban video gambling were trustees Patricia Romke, Bill Grabarek, Jeff Walter and Ken Anderson. Trustee Gordon Dierschow abstained from voting, saying the village should take more time to decide.

Grabarek said he wanted to ban video gambling now, as a “pre-emptive measure,” before the state adopts regulations he worries might prevent the village from banning it later. He said state estimates of tax revenue that video gambling could generate are way overstated. He added that most of the money from video gambling would go to bar owners.

“To me, that keeps the money within too small a circle,” Grabarek said.

The reason Romke voted for the ban was that she wants family-oriented businesses in Elburn, and if she had small children, she would not want to take them into an establishment with gambling. She said she finds the possibility of Elburn being a gambling destination, “scary.”

“It does not, in my opinion, fit the village of Elburn,” Romke said.

Trustee Ken Anderson is opposed to having video gambling in the village, because it could promote addiction to the activity, which he said can cause serious problems for gamblers and their families, he said.

Trustee Walter said most of the residents he has talked to about the issue are against having video gambling in Elburn. Like Grabarek, he said unless the village places a moratorium now on video gambling, he is concerned that it could lose the opportunity for that control.

Village President Dave Anderson said he understands the fear of not being able to opt out later, but is concerned that future regulations also might prevent the village from reversing a ban on video gambling.

When the ordinance banning video gambling is ready for the Village Board to vote on, he would not participate unless his vote was required to break a tie.

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