Following the lead of many of its Northwest suburban neighbors like Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and Wheeling, Rolling Meadows is set to ban electronic sweepstakes machines, which officials say resemble video gambling.

Without discussion, aldermen this week unanimously moved forward an ordinance that would ban the sweepstakes kiosks within city limits, where they’ve already begun to pop up. A final, second reading vote is scheduled for Nov. 26.

The city council overturned its long-standing ban on video gambling terminals last year, but city officials say the virtually identical sweepstakes machines can operate with little to no regulation — short of placing a citywide ban on them.

Video gambling machines, on the other hand, require special licenses from the city and state, and they must be placed in an area set aside for adults that can be monitored by an employee, officials say.
Customers can play sweepstakes machines for free or using cash, but instead of paying out cash, the machines dispense coupons or gift cards that can be redeemed for products, cash or chances to win prizes with the purchase of a product or service.

The Illinois Gaming Board considers the sweepstakes machines “illegal gambling devices,” though state law doesn’t specifically prohibit them.