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Will Schaumburg lift video gambling ban?

by Eric Peterson, Daily Herald

Revisiting an issue raised during the election campaign in the spring, Schaumburg village board members Tuesday discussed ending their 7-year-old ban on video gambling as well as what lesser regulations might be put on it.

Though progress was made during the course of a 2½-hour conversation, the seven members hope to reach greater consensus on a draft law on Sept. 17.

Among the points that achieved general agreement already was to allow established businesses a year to host video gambling before any new businesses could enter that field. The board also believed six machines per business should be the limit in Schaumburg, even if the state later raises its own limit.

A liquor license is the basic requirement to have a video gambling license in Illinois, and village board members agreed they had no problem with full-service restaurants and hotels with wait staffs to be eligible.

Where disagreements began to creep into the conversation was over allowing gambling cafes whose primary business is the machines, with the food and liquor served in such places being secondary.

Half the trustees -- Brian Bieschke, Marge Connelly and Mark Madej -- said they didn't favor such businesses. Trustees George Dunham, Frank Kozak and Jack Sullivan had no such opposition, with Mayor Tom Dailly breaking the tie in their favor if other restrictions such as limiting the number of these cafes was considered.

Connelly said her opinion was that such cafes were predatory on gambling addicts. Dunham countered that some people will always engage in various activities to excess and that it wasn't government's role to restrict all of them.

"At a certain point, people have to police themselves," Dunham said.

Joe Elias, a representative of the local chain May's Lounge, tried unsuccessfully to persuade Connelly to see such cafes differently, while Schaumburg resident Renee Schuler asked that potential small operators like herself be considered to open cafes in their own village.

Madej said his opposition was largely based on the premise that overturning the gambling ban was meant to help existing Schaumburg businesses compete with those in neighboring towns.

Schaumburg staff identified 137 existing businesses that would be eligible for gambling licenses under state law, but that number would be reduced just by the restrictions trustees already agree on, Village Manager Brian Townsend said.

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