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State

Chicago suburbs try to get a handle on slot machines

OAK LAWN (AP) – Several southern Chicago suburbs are enacting new rules to curb the spread of video gambling businesses.

Data from the Illinois Gaming Board show patrons of gambling businesses in 14 south and southwest suburbs that have the biggest concentration of gambling machines spent more than $150 million through August this year, The Daily Southtown reported. Gamblers over that same time span incurred losses of more than $39 million.

In the southern suburbs, video gambling spawned a hybrid business, referred to as gambling boutiques, cafes or gambling parlors, where the slots are the primary money maker and food and beverages are secondary.

Communities that have set new rules, or plan to, include New Lenox, Crestwood and Tinley Park.

New Lenox officials approved an ordinance in February aimed at freezing out gambling cafes It requires a business that has gambling to earn more than 60 percent of its annual gross revenue from non-video gambling sources.

“It makes the model closer to what we want it to be,” Mayor Tim Baldermann said. “We want to help existing businesses be successful.”

Tinley Park officials also approved more stringent rules in June for such businesses. Illinois laws covering video gambling require businesses with them to be at least 100 feet away from a church or school. Under Tinley Park’s restrictions, that distance is 500 feet, and it also applies to the distance from day care centers or other gambling halls.

Crestwood is considering an ordinance to restrict the growth of video gambling by requiring new establishments to obtain a special use permit from the village.

“We got enough now,” he said. “Any more and it’s just hurting us. We’re happy with what we have.”

Frankfort, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palos Park and South Holland, as well as unincorporated areas of Cook and Will counties, don’t allow the machines.

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