The McHenry County Board Liquor and License Committee Monday voted to offer two video gambling options for full board action next week. One would be a simple immediate ban in all unincorporated areas of the county. The other would put such a ban to referendum on next February's election ballot.
This Summer the Legislature approved licensing video gaming machines in bars and restaurants to help pay for the $31 billion in infrastructure spending they'd already approved. An immediate practical problem was that the state Gaming Board said it wasn't ready to regulate electronic one-armed bandits. At the same time, though, an anti-gambling groundswell arose to roll back the statewide OK on a piecemeal basis. One part of that was a call to de-authorize video gaming machines in the 44 locations throughout McHenry County where the new law says they could be installed.
Bar owners and road construction workers turned out in support of the machines at a Liquor and License Committee hearing early this month but failed to convince members. Monday the committee concluded they still didn't like the machines but concluded maybe it was something to put directly to voters.
"There's plenty of time," said District 6 Member Jim Kennedy, Lake in the Hills. "From what we understand the Gaming Board isn't expected to have rules ready for 12 to 18 months."
"I think we need to get all the input on this that we can," said Kennedy. "With a referendum everyone can vote for it or against it but in the end the people will speak."