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Sycamore City Council to discuss video gambling

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

SYCAMORE – Sycamore could have a clearer picture of the future of video gambling after the City Council discusses the findings of a survey that showed a majority of bars were in favor of gaming machines.

In a survey distributed by City Manager Brian Gregory, five of six bars that responded indicated support and said they would be interested in three to five terminals for their establishment. One of three fraternal organizations indicated support, while the other two informally have told Gregory of their interest.

The three restaurants that responded, as well as the winery, said they would not be interested.

The council first discussed the issue in June, with Aldermen Greg Taylor, Pete Paulsen, Janice Tripp and Rick Kramer supporting video gambling in the city. Aldermen Alan Bauer, Gary Waight, Chuck Stowe and Steve Braser were cool to the idea and wanted more information.

Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said he would be fine with any decision by the aldermen. If gambling is allowed, Mundy said it would be up to residents to act responsibly.

“It goes back to personal responsibility and personal choices,” Mundy said. “It’s up to the individual to police themselves.”

After gauging interest from survey respondents, city officials estimate that Sycamore bars and fraternal clubs could have about 32 terminals combined. Based on estimates from the Illinois Municipal League, Sycamore officials believe gaming could generate $99,000 a year for the city – an estimate Mundy believes is overblown.

“I would love to be proven wrong on that count,” Mundy said.

The council also will review the half-percent increase to the home-rule sales tax it approved in January 2010 to help reduce the large revenue shortfall caused by the economic downturn. City staff recommended keeping the increase because the city still relies on transfers to balance the budget. The increase generates about $900,000 a year.

“It’s a good thing we haven’t forgotten to look at it and review it,” Mundy said. “But I don’t think the council is going to view this as a time where we are going to cut our revenue.”

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