Wauconda residents Sharon Kennedy and Don Goodman play video gambling machines at the American Legion Post 911 in Wauconda.

Wauconda residents Sharon Kennedy and Don Goodman play video gambling machines at the American Legion Post 911 in Wauconda. Lake Zurich officials are considering allowing similar machines at local establishments. (For the Chicago Tribune, Kristy MacKaben photo / March 13, 2014)

Video gambling might have a shot in Lake Zurich, despite disapproval from past elected officials.

The Lake Zurich board of trustees plans to discuss soon the possibility of allowing video gambling machines at establishments in the village, though previous boards have knocked down the issue.

"There are businesses that have requested that we revisit it. This board hasn't had the chance to have a bite at that apple," Mayor Thomas Poynton said. "More businesses have come to us and said they'd be interested and they feel they're at a disadvantage. I don't have a problem with it personally, but if the community says they don't want it and the trustees don't want it, then that's fine."

Since the gambling became legal in Illinois in 2012, several restaurants in the village, as well as the American Legion have lobbied trustees to allow video gambling.

"We want to get video gaming going," said Richard Johnson, commander of American Legion Post 964 in Lake Zurich.

Johnson spoke to the board of trustees at a recent meeting, trying to convince them to reconsider video gambling. The profits from the machines would help the American Legion, Johnson said.

Without the income, Johnson said some of the American Legion programs and charitable projects might have to be eliminated or reduced.

Johnson and representatives from other restaurants and bars contend that local communities like Wauconda have allowed video gambling, and experienced an influx of customers, and some revenue for the municipalities. The state receives about 25 percent of the income while the local governments receive about 5 percent, Lake Zurich officials said.

"It helps greatly. They were installed and fired up one year ago," said Pat McGrady, building manager for American Legion Post 911 in Wauconda. The extra revenue will be used to upgrade the building and also donate to the community, veterans' programs and school scholarships. "We have five machines that are constantly being played. The revenue comes in monthly and it helps us greatly."

If approved by Lake Zurich, establishments would be permitted to operate five video gambling machines, as regulated by state law.

Though the village would receive a minimal percentage of the profits, Lake Zurich officials say they feel video gaming might bring potential customers and increase revenue for businesses.

"With all the villages that have recently taken upon video gambling, they do get a percentage of the profit off the machines. It's very small, incremental money. It's nothing you can bank or budget on," said Lake Zurich Trustee Jeff Halen. "It would provide a little bit of money, but at the same time it would provide an opportunity for people to come into Lake Zurich and come to the restaurants and establishments."

Allowing video gaming, however, causes some concern among residents, including fears of crime, gambling addiction and decreased quality of life, Halen said.

"Some concerns that I've heard are just about different people coming to the community from outside our area, that it could bring a different quality of life," Halen said, indicating he wants to hear more about what has happened in other towns.

Folks at Wauconda's American Legion insist there have been no problems related to video gambling.

"We haven't had any problems. We don't anticipate any problems. We have nothing to do with the machines. We handle no money," McGrady said. "People are concerned about unsavory characters. We don't get that."

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