Village board approves ordinance banning sweepstakes machines in Flossmoor

Some people know them as promotional kiosks.
Others refer to them as sweepstakes machines.
Whatever their name, they are now illegal in Flossmoor.
The village board Monday approved an ordinance banning the electronic devices. In a unanimous decision, board members ruled that the devices are gaming machines and “it is in the best interests of the village and its residents to ban the operation of sweepstakes machines in the village.”
Police Chief Michael Pulec said the machines resemble video gaming machines that are found in bars and other venues and have electronic displays that are similar to those found on poker or slot machines.
In late May, Pulec played one of the machines located at the village’s Quick Mart, at 2749 Flossmoor Road. The machine gives players a choice – either they can insert money into the machine or play for free if they submit personal information.
Once a player has finished using the machine, a ticket is printed that reflects credits, Pulec said. It can be exchanged for cash at the machine location or merchandise on the internet.
Pulec noted that there are no age restrictions on who can operate the sweepstakes machines and that Parker Junior High School is less than a block away from the Quick Mart.
Also, unlike actual electronic gaming machines, there are no provisions for the state or local communities to collect any revenue from such devices.
Pulec said two residents had complained to the village about the machines. Flossmoor allows video gaming machines, but they are only found at one location in the village, Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery. In recent years, village officials have rejected several requests to allow so-called video gaming cafes in Flossmoor since they would be open for the sole purpose of gambling.
Sweepstakes machines present a unique challenge and “currently exist in a grey area under Illinois law,” Pulec said in a memo to the board. There is no law that definitively bans sweepstakes machines. Under current state law, games of skill or chance are not illegal gambling if no payment or purchase is required to participate, even if money or things of value can be won.
The Illinois Gaming Board has issued an opinion on sweepstakes machines, Pulec said in his memo. The state agency views the machines as violating Illinois law “but noted cases in Cook and DuPage counties were being dismissed by local judges.”
Village board members indicated they wanted to prohibit the machines in Flossmoor at their May 21 meeting. The ordinance adopted this week allows the village to deny requests for licenses and to take enforcement action if any sweepstakes machines are found in Flossmoor.
Pulec said the Quick Mart owner was extremely cooperative when told that Flossmoor was considering action against such machines. The sweepstakes machines have been disconnected, Pulec said, and will be picked up by the company that owns them.   

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