Future of video gaming hinges on business interest
Ed Downing, owner of Downing's bar, is a proponent of allowing gambling in Libertyville.| Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2013 1:44AM
LIBERTYVILLE — Even though a neighboring community has given video gambling the green light, Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler is unswayed.
“It has no effect on us,” Weppler said of Mundelein’s 4-3 vote last week to approve video gaming there.
The Libertyville Village Board may revisit the issue if there is interest from the business community, Weppler said.
“It would be extra revenue for the village and we always look for revenue. But if no one installs the machines, then there would be no point,” Weppler said.
Libertyville trustees voted unanimously to ban video gaming in 2009.
Ed Downing, 21-year owner of Downing’s bar in town, said he would like to install video gaming machines and has met with Weppler and other village officials to express interest in allowing gaming in the village.
The passage of Mundelein’s ordinance is a cause for concern to Downing, a 44-year Libertyville resident.
“If someone wants to play those games, they will and they will go to Mundelein to play them if they can’t do it here,” he said.
Downing said he worries Libertyville may lose gaming revenue and related food and beverage purchases if customers go elsewhere to use the machines.
Libertyville Village Administrator Kevin Bowens said that in 2009 the board’s License and Permits Committee extensively researched video gaming, consulted with municipalities that allowed it and sought feedback from the community. The resulting recommendation to the board was to ban gaming.
Since that time, only one new trustee, Jim Moran, has been elected to the board. Moran said he felt the village would reconsider video gaming only if it was in dire financial straits, but added he would remain open to the concerns of local business owners.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill allowing video gaming in 2009. The bill calls for 30 percent of gaming proceeds to be taxed; 5 percent of that would stay in the community where the machines are located.
The state of Illinois was projected to earn $31 billion in revenue from video gaming with the money earmarked for road, bridge, transit and public building projects.