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Batavia eyes lifting ban on video gambling

Local VFW requested lifting ban

BATAVIA – Batavia aldermen on Tuesday took the first step in lifting the city’s ban on video gambling.

Aldermen at Tuesday’s Joint Committee of the Whole meeting 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.

“That would be a great help to us,” Dale Richard, of the Batavia Overseas Post 1197 VFW, told aldermen. He had previously said that the organization is in competition with other organizations that have video gambling, such as the Aurora Turners Club and the Aurora VFW.

Aldermen will vote on the resolution at the next committee meeting, and then it will go to the full City Council.

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 said there is no evidence that video gambling causes an increase in crime.

“Of the towns that allow video gaming, none have seen an increase in calls for service or crime at these establishments,” Schira told aldermen. “Further, there is no evidence of organized crime in any of these operations.”

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.

City attorney Kevin Drendel had suggested the city could put limits on video gambling, such as only allowing licensed veterans organizations to have it.

But 7th Ward Alderman Dave Brown said that would cause bar owners to come before the City Council requesting to have video gambling, as well.

“I think if we limit it, we are just kicking the can down the road,” Brown said.

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