A decision on whether video gaming should be allowed in this riverboat casino community has been tabled for two weeks as city officials continue to explore options for allowing the activity on a limited basis in Elgin.
It’s an issue city officials are considering carefully. There is some support for limited video gaming — at fraternal organizations in town, for instance, have been pressing for the machines.
One question is whether the law will allow the city to do that. The law allows for video gaming in licensed facilities, such as fraternal organizations, bars, restaurants, and veterans organizations, which all hold liquor licenses, and qualifying licensed truck stop establishments. There are some businesses in those categories who are interested in having video gaming: When the state inadvertently listed Elgin among the communities that had not banned video gaming, six local bars and restaurants lined up to apply for a state license.
But there also is concern that allowing outright video gaming would prove a blow to the Grand Victoria Casino, a cash cow for the city since it opened in October 1994 but whose revenues to the city have been in decline, which worsened when a competing casino opened last summer in Des Plaines.
City officials said earlier this week that reversing the city’s two ordinances banning video gaming is a policy decision that only the City Council can make.
The state legalized video gaming in 2009 but was unable to implement it until the Illinois Gaming Board had formulated regulations for it. The board completed those rules recently, and a number of communities are considering the issue. Like Elgin, some of those communities had decided in 2009 or 2010 they would not accept video gaming.
To allow video gaming, the city would have to change two ordinances that ban it. Should that happen, officials say the earliest the devices could be in service in Elgin would be August.