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Crystal Lake Grants 4 More Video Gambling Licenses

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The City Council of Crystal Lake granted four more video gambling licenses to local businesses on Tuesday event, on the conditions that three of them do more to keep it out of sight of other patrons.

Council members on 5-2 votes granted the licenses to Crystal Lake Rib House, Labemi’s Tavert and Restaurant, Wings Etc. and Moe-B-Dick’s North Shore Pub. Tuesday’s votes bring the total to six businesses that are allowed to have video gambling machines after the City Council earlier this year reversed one of McHenry County’s last remaining bans.

While the council approved the Rib House’s proposal as presented, it’s approval of the other three was contingent upon working with city staff to develop plans to better shield the machines from view. In the case of Labemi’s, its proposal only had a rope preventing people younger than 21 from accessing the gaming area.

“We’ve been pretty consistent – most, now three out of three who have gone before you really have the things segregated off, not very easy to see,” Mayor Aaron Shepley told Labemi’s co-owner.

Local businesses that alleged that the pan put them at a competitive disadvantage worked with the city to craft a compromise ordinance, stricter than those of other local governments, that would allow them to have the machines.

Crystal Lake’s ordinance allows local establishments to serve liquor on the premises to have up to three machines – state law allows five. Establishments cannot have exterior signage advertising video gambling, and neither interior signs nor the machines themselves can be visible from the outside. The city charges two annual fees totaling $1,100 plus a $500 fee per machine, and the applicants must also sign an agreement promising not to go to course to get the city’s ordinance softened.

Council members Cathy Ferguson and Brett Hopkins, who oppose video gambling, voted against legalizing it and have cast the opposing votes on principle for the license applications.

Illinois legalized video gambling in 2009 to help generate revenue to pay off bonds for a $31 billion capital plan, although the machines didn’t start appearing in local establishments until late 2012.

The state gets 30% of the proceeds, 5% of which will be given to the city. The remaining 70% of the profit is split between the machine owner and each establishment. Crystal Lake charges companies that provide the machines a $1,000 annual fee to do business in the city.