Should DuPage Consider Abolishing Video Gambling Ban?

A decade after DuPage became Illinois ‘ first county to prohibit video gambling, county board vice president suggests the committee should consider abolishing the ban.

Jim Zay said he heard from companies and a Foreign Wars veterans post saying they need video gambling to produce more income. But unless DuPage lifts its ban, affecting more than two dozen bars, restaurants, and veterans groups in unincorporated areas, they can not install the machines.

“We have businesses in unincorporated areas that want to compete with businesses in incorporated areas that have video gaming,” the Carol Stream Republican said Wednesday. “They want to be on the same footing.”

Several restaurants and bars have chosen to be annexed to municipalities to allow video gambling, in some instances taking with them nearby companies.

“Not only are we losing revenue we could get from video gaming,” Zay said. “We’re losing unincorporated area and regular sales tax that we could be getting.”

Zay intends to take another look at video gambling from the DuPage County Board and will ask the finance committee to address the problem.

“We’ve already had most of our discussion on cannabis,” he said. “I think this would be a good time to talk about video gaming.”

In 2009, Illinois legalised video games, but cities and counties could opt out. In August of that year, DuPage implemented its ban after authorities quoted potential social issues.

Initially, municipalities across DuPage followed the lead of the county, but many cities gradually began to lift their bans.

According to the Illinois Gaming Board, many DuPage cities now enable for video games, including Addison, Aurora, Bensenville, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Darien, Glendale Heights, Itasca, Lombard, Oakbrook Terrace, Roselle, Villa Park, Westmont, Willowbrook, Wood Dale and Woodridge.

More than two years ago, the concept of abolishing DuPage’s prohibition was discussed.

At the moment, it was estimated that DuPage could have earned up to $312,000 in fresh income a year if the ban was lifted and all its liquor license holders obtained a permit for video gambling. But the finance committee of the county board refused to abolish the moratorium in June 2017.

Zay claims he thinks the politics have changed now.

“The board has changed from two years ago,” he said.

When DuPage first endorsed its ban, Zay said, video gambling had many unanswered questions.

Now, he said, “it’s just about everywhere.” There is also a decade of information demonstrating that companies can function without issues with the machines.

“Everybody worries you’re going to go into a restaurant with your family and there’s going to be video gaming,” Zay said. “The way the restaurants and bars have done it, they have put it in different areas so you’re not looking at it all the time.”

While the additional tax revenue could be used by DuPage, Zay said his objective is to assist companies compete in unincorporated areas.