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County approves video gaming for unincorporated areas

Reversing its stance from a year ago, the county board voted 17-5 on July 15 to allow video gaming at the 14 establishments that hold county liquor licenses.

Board member Greg Sparrow, Rochelle, said the county board's decision last year put rural establishments at a disadvantage because municipalities in the county had approved video gaming.

"All this will do is level the playing field," he said.

Board member Dick Petrizzo, Monroe Center, said he was surprised to see how much revenue is coming in from the gaming machines.

"In my little corner of the world, it looks like people are spending about $200,000 per year on these machines," he said. "It's a staggering amount. I'm sorry to see that."

Board chairman Kim Gouker said the county's ordinance stipulates that at least 65 percent of an establishment's income must come from non-gaming income.

Proceeds from the machines are split between the bar owner, the company that provides the machines, the state, and the city or county. 

The money is collected by the state which then distributes it.

The city or county gets 5 percent, the state gets 25 percent, the machine provider and establishment each get 35 percent.

The Illinois Video Gaming Act enacted in 2009 legalizes the use of video gaming terminals in certain establishments that hold liquor licenses.

Voting against the video gaming ordinance were board members, Lyle Hopkins, Polo, Dan Janes, Stillman Valley, Patricia Nordman, Oregon, Zach Oltmanns, Stillman Valley, and Ashley Simms, Rochelle.

In related action, the board reduced the number of available liquor licenses from 20 to 15.

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