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Elgin to explore video gambling
By Harry Hitzeman | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/10/2009 12:00 AM

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It could be more than a year before video poker machines begin to sprout in bars across Illinois.

But Elgin officials want to study what effect video gaming could have on the city and Grand Victoria Casino.

Elgin Councilman David Kaptain on Wednesday asked the city staff to investigate what impact the machines, OK'd by Governor Pat Quinn in July as part of the state's capital plan, will have on Elgin.

"It's a moral issue," said Kaptain, who opposes video gaming in Elgin and is fearful the maximum number of five machines per bar or tavern could quickly grow into 10 or 15. "It's time to start the conversation now."

Mayor Ed Schock said the Illinois Gaming Board still must develop rules and regulations for video poker, a process the could take at least a year.

"I think we have time to look into it," he said.

One Elgin group has come out against video poker.

Laurel Bault, vice president of the League of Women Voters of the Elgin area, urged the council to pass a local law now banning video poker.

She said gambling is a regressive way to raise revenue that targets the poor. She also said gambling has a low-growth potential and video poker encourages people to play longer, faster and bet more.

"Gambling is not a source of revenue that is equitable, progressive, stable and responsible," Bault said.

Kaptain hopes the staff completes its investigation by the end of the year.