Island Lake officials may once again enact a moratorium on video gambling licenses — but a decision has been delayed two weeks.
The village board on Thursday voted to delay a vote on the matter until Jan. 23 so the Island Foods grocery store could be considered for a license, Village Clerk Georgine Cooper said.
A video gambling permit also is being considered for a Circle K gas station and convenience store planned for the northwest corner of Route 176 and River Road. The entrepreneur behind the Circle K doesn’t yet have a gambling license for the property, village documents indicate, but the land was annexed into Island Lake with the intent to allow gambling there.
The moratorium that was up for a vote Thursday would run through Jan. 31, 2021. It would have allowed video gambling at Circle K; it did not mention Island Foods.
An Island Foods representative spoke to the board in November about adding gambling machines. Trustee Chuck Cermak said a decision should be made about that request before the board votes on a moratorium.
Cermak favors giving a license to the store, which has operated at 223 E. State Road for decades.
“I’m looking to keep businesses here,” Cermak said Friday. “I would hate to lose them because they’re not making enough income.”
Video gambling has been allowed in Island Lake since 2014, five years after it was legalized in Illinois. The vote to permit it in Island Lake followed months of debate and was close; Mayor Charles Amrich broke a 3-3 tie to tip the scales.
However, in September 2015, the board tried to stop local gambling expansion by halting the issuing of liquor licenses to businesses that sell food but don’t have full kitchens. The move targeted video gambling parlors that offer video gambling terminals, snacks and beverages — and little else.
That maneuver didn’t stop video gambling from proliferating in town. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of businesses with machines grew from two to five.
In May 2017, the board took a stricter approach by voting to temporarily stop issuing video gambling permits until June 2018. That ban wasn’t renewed when it expired, though, and a sixth business has since received a license.
As of today, Sofia’s Place, Sideouts Sports Tavern, Julie’s Island Lake, Chi-Town Dogs, Lakes Lucky Slots and a Thorntons gas station all have gambling machines.
Their 30 machines attracted about $21.3 million in wagering in 2019, Illinois Gaming Board data indicates, up about 18% from $18 million the year before.
Island Lake collected $82,987 in revenue from the machines in 2019, up nearly 10% from $75,552 the year before.
Cermak long has been a proponent of video gambling in town, lobbying to legalize the machines for years before the board actually took that step. Many other towns allow it, he said, and so should Island Lake.
Estimated annual total of wagers in Island Lake video gambling machines
2015: $3.5 million
2016: $10.2 million
2017: $16.7 million
2018: $18 million
2019: $21.3 million
Island Lake’s annual revenue from video gambling
Source: Illinois Gaming Board