Will County is one step closer to potentially allowing video gaming in unincorporated areas.
The county board’s Legislative and Policy Committee voted Tuesday to bring the decision to lift a 2015 ban on video gaming to the full board meeting later this month.
Will County Board member Judy Ogalla, R-Monee, was the only committee member to vote against repealing the ban.
When the state passed the Video Gaming Act in 2009, it allowed municipalities to opt in or out of allowing video gaming within their borders.
The Will County Board voted to prohibit allowing more businesses and organizations in unincorporated areas to get a video gaming license from the state. Some establishments had already been granted licenses. They were then grandfathered in, once the ban was in place.
But some establishments like the Fort Erie Elks Lodge, a fraternal organization in unincorporated Lockport, now think adding video gaming machines could help raise revenue.
A few members of the organization attended the meeting on Tuesday to explain why they wanted the opportunity to get a video gaming license.
“Times change,” said Early Deloach, an Elks Lodge member. “The need for revenue constantly expands. … Our dues will not sustain what we do.”
Some county board members, like Republicans Jim Moustis and Mike Fricilone, said they were opposed to allowing more video gaming.
“I really believe that this is detrimental to families in the community,” Moustis said. “And there’s no good. Who benefits from this?”
Moustis added that while he isn’t against gambling entirely and understands why service organizations would want the added revenue, he still thinks gambling should be limited.
He also suggested the legislative committee find some other remedy to help struggling service organizations beside allowing for more gambling.
But a few other members still argued they were in support of allowing more video gaming simply as a matter of fairness to businesses and organizations that did not earn a license before the ban.
“It’s a fairness aspect at this point,” Will County Board member Rachel Ventura said. “There are other areas that have it. The state has expanded gambling.”
A draft version of the ordinance to repeal the ban does state that a majority of municipalities within Will County allow video gaming, and the prohibition does create a competitive disadvantage for some businesses and organizations.
The Will County Board will vote at its regular meeting on July 18.