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Sugar Grove talks referendum for video gambling

SUGAR GROVE – Village trustees Tuesday discussed asking voters in April whether the village should allow video gambling.

The deadline has passed for getting an advisory referendum on the November ballot. Trustees earlier this month voted 3-2 to opt out of video gambling. Trustees Kevin Geary, David Paluch and Rick Montalto voted to opt out, while trustees Mari Johnson and Robert Bohler voted to allow video gambling.

Trustee Tom Renk was absent from that meeting. Tuesday, Renk apologized for not being at the meeting, saying he was stuck in traffic in Wisconsin.

Renk said he would have voted to opt out of video gambling. The Sugar Grove American Legion applied to the Illinois Gaming Board to be a licensed establishment for video gambling .

Geary has been pushing for an advisory referendum on the issue so residents can decide for themselves whether they want video gambling.

“It seems to be a very emotionally charged issue,” Geary said. “My job is to represent all the people.”

Geary has announced he will run against Village President Sean Michaels in April. But Geary said he doesn’t see the issue as an election issue.

“It speaks to the democratic process,” Geary said.

Trustees have until January to decide whether to put an advisory referendum on the April ballot. Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said staff recommended that trustees hold off on a decision as long as possible in case residents petitioned to have a binding referendum put on the April ballot.

“It could be confusing if there are two referendums on the same subject,” Eichelberger said.

Those wanting to place a binding referendum on the April ballot need to get the signatures of 25 percent of the registered voters in the November election, he said.

In July 2009, Gov. Pat Quinn legalized video gaming to help pay for a $31 billion statewide construction program.

Municipalities have the choice of whether to allow video gambling. North Aurora village trustees recently voted 4-2 to allow video gambling. Batavia and St. Charles – along with the villages of Elburn, Campton Hills and Kaneville – have banned video gambling .

Bars, truck stops, social clubs and veterans organizations in communities with video gaming can have up to five machines each.

The Illinois Supreme Court in 2011 upheld the constitutionality of the Illinois Video Gaming Act. Video gambling terminals have to be in an area restricted to people older than 21.

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