Unincorporated areas of Cook County, Illinois will allow video gambling after commissioners voted Wednesday to allow the terminals in the cash-hungry county. The measure doesn’t impact Chicago, the city that encompasses a significant portion of the Cook County population, where such terminals remain illegal.
Supporters say the county needs the potential new revenue. Opponents remain concerned about the potential problems more legal gambling might generate.
The county’s bureau of finance’s estimates the machines could bring in at least $260,000 in taxes for the remainder of this year, and increase up to $781,000 over the next four years.
“This is an opportunity for us to bring in revenue from people who want to pay the revenue, not by forcing something on somebody,” said Commissioner Tim Schneider, a Bartlett Republican.
The county did not allow the terminals after video gambling machines were legalized in Illinois during fall 2012. Under state law, each establishment authorized to operate video gambling is permitted up to five machines.
The new measure would allow businesses with a liquor license to apply for video gambling. There are approximately 60 businesses with liquor licenses in unincorporated Cook, Schneider said. Ninety of 132 municipalities in the county have already allowed video gambling.
Commissioners voted 9-1 in favor of the plan, with three voting present.
The ordinance is effective Aug. 1.