At its meeting on Tuesday, the Will County Board Legislative and Policy Committee discussed possibly opting into allowing video gaming for businesses and organizations in unincorporated communities.
In 2015, the Will County Board voted to ban further video gaming in unincorporated areas. The ordinance did allow for fraternal organizations, truck stops and other businesses that already had video gaming licenses to be grandfathered in, so the ban did not affect them.
Although some members of the committee expressed mixed feelings, others said they felt that it was important to allow equal opportunities for smaller businesses and organizations that did not previously have a license.
“I still think that it’s unfair that we allow some businesses in the county to do it and others not to,” said Tyler Marcum, D-Joliet. “I don’t think that any government should prohibit a fair business environment.”
Member Herbert Brooks Jr., D-Joliet, said he was on the fence about allowing video gambling, but he had heard from his constituents about their interest in helping businesses.
“I do see how it could benefit those business ... some of them may be out of business right now had it not been for that support (from video gaming),” Brooks said.
Member Mimi Cowan, D-Naperville, said she also was on the fence, but said she is leaning toward voting against allowing it.
“I think that in general there is significant evidence to show that gambling is a regressive policy and that it hits lower income areas much harder,” Cowan said.
She said she is concerned about the possibility of an increase in gambling addictions and about how gaming is taxed. She said the taxes on video gambling are instituted in a way that is “much more friendly” to the actual gaming companies than the organizations and businesses who host them.
After discussion, the committee voted to bring the decision to the full Will County Board at its regular meeting in July after a public hearing.