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Batavia votes against lifting ban on video gambling

Batavia mayor threatens to veto lifting ban

BATAVIA – Aldermen at Tuesday’s Joint Committee of the Whole meeting rejected lifting the city’s ban on video gambling.

Only four of the aldermen at the meeting voted to lift the ban. Six of the aldermen rejected lifting the ban.

Voting "yes" were 1st Ward Alderman Garran Sparks, 2nd Ward Alderman Alan Wolff, 5th Ward Alderman Lucy Thelin Atac and 7th Ward Alderman Dave Brown. Voting "no" were 2nd Ward Alderman Marty Callahan, 3rd Ward Alderman Dan Chanzit, 3rd Ward Alderman Kyle Hohmann, 4th Ward Alderman Jamie Saam, 6th Ward Alderman Lisa Clark and 7th Ward Alderman Drew McFadden.

The committee’s recommendation now goes on to the full City Council. Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said he would veto lifting the ban.

Several residents and church leaders spoke against lifting the ban.

“It will impact the moral complexion of our community,” said Keith Hallam, senior pastor at Sanctuary Church in Batavia, in addressing aldermen. “Nothing that is politically right is morally wrong.”

Hallam was one of several people who spoke against lifting the ban. Aldermen had previously voted, 8-2, to direct staff to draft a resolution to allow video gambling within the city.

Officials from the Batavia VFW had asked Batavia aldermen to reconsider the city’s ban on video gambling.

“I would like to point out that morality is not legislated,” said Dale Richard, of the Batavia VFW. “We are here to vote on a legislative matter.”

Seventh Ward Alderman Drew McFadden said he was against lifting the ban.

“We took an oath to do what is in the best interest of the city,” McFadden said.

But 1st Ward Alderman Garran Sparks, chairman of the City Council’s Government Services Committee, was in favor of lifting the ban.

“If we are going to ban video gambling, I don’t understand why were are not banning the state lottery in Batavia.”

Batavia, along with Geneva, St. Charles and Campton Hills, doesn’t allow video gambling.
Some communities that originally banned video gambling now allow it, including North Aurora, Sugar Grove and Elburn.

Batavia Police Chief Gary Schira has said there is no evidence that video gambling causes an increase in crime.

Bars, truck stops, social clubs and veterans organizations in those communities and counties with video gaming can have up to five gaming machines each. The Illinois Supreme Court in 2011 upheld the constitutionality of the Illinois Video Gaming Act. 

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