CAMPTON HILLS – The Campton Hills Village Board on Tuesday voted 4-3 in favor of trying video gambling for two years even as the majority of residents voting in the April 2 election said they didn't think video gambling should be allowed.
Village President Harry Blecker cast the deciding vote after trustees deadlocked on the issue. Voting "yes" were trustees Mike Millette, Wendy White Eagle and Nick Girka and voting "no" were trustees Mike Tyrrell, Susan George and Michael O'Dwyer.
"It's important for us to become business friendly," said Blecker, prior to voting in favor of allowing video gambling. "Right now, most of the businesses in this community don't look at us as friendly."
And he noted that residents can already buy scratch off tickets or lottery tickets at gas stations in the village.
"And those products are just, if not, more addictive than video gaming," Blecker said.
He did not run for reelection in April, with Tyrrell running unopposed for village president.
During the meeting, those against bringing video gambling to Campton Hills talked about its addictive nature. As part of an advisory referendum in the April 2 election, 654 residents, or 53.87 %, said they were against allowing video gambling in the village, compared to 547 residents, or 45.06 %, who supported the idea, according to the election results.
The village banned video gambling in December 2009. In 2012, a majority of residents voting in an advisory referendum rejected lifting the village's ban on video gambling. Results showed that 69.85 of those who voted were against the idea, while 25.33 percent were in favor.
In that election, 69.85 % of those who voted were against the idea, while 25.33 % were in favor. White Eagle took note of how many more people were in favor of video gambling in the April 2 election than in the 2012 vote.
"There was a change in the vote – 78 percent of the vote shifted to the positive," she said.
However, O'Dwyer said even though the turnout in the election was low – only 13.97 % percent of eligible voters cast a ballot – the Village Board needed to respect the wishes of the residents who voted in the election.
"Elections have consequences," he said. "We could twist the numbers, but it’s still no. I have to go with what the people asked us to do."
In January, a majority of Campton Township Village Board members voted to put the advisory referendum on the ballot after restaurant owners in Campton Hills implored village officials to lift the ban on video gambling so they could be on a level playing field with establishments in communities where video gambling is allowed.