Voters of Chicago Suburb Make History with Video Gambling Ban

Voters in the Chicago suburb of Forest Park made history in Illinois by enacting a ban on video gambling. The town is the first in the state to reverse its decision to allow video gambling. After a hard-fought campaign, around 52 percent of voters were in favor of eliminating the machines.

Video gambling was legalized by the Forest Park Village Council in 2016. Those who opposed the ban argue video gambling serves as a reliable source of tax revenue and has caused few issues since its introduction. The ballot question itself was controversial as it required a yes vote to say no to video gambling.

Illinois legalized video gaming machines six years ago, allowing local communities the final say on whether to allow them or not. The majority of Chicago-area suburbs jumped on the opportunity and the machines have since been approved by the councils of most towns.

The Forest Park Council was initially resistant to allow the measure to ban video gambling to be included on the ballot. They attempted to reject all the submitted petition signatures because a few pages of signatures were invalid.

Supporters of the ban took the issue to an appeals court. Judges sided with the supporters of the ban, saying the town officials were “erroneous” in their analysis of the signatures.

Without video gambling, the town is expected to lose up to $170,000 in annual tax revenue. According to Village Administrator Tim Gillian, it will be a major loss for the small town. Gillian said the money was primarily allocated for public worker pensions.

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