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No. 9 of 2012: Video gambling at your neighborhood bar

Shawn Ludwig North Chicago plays video gaming machine Franks Lounge North Chicago. Franks Lounge located 2234 Green Bay Road has

Shawn Ludwig of North Chicago plays a video gaming machine at Franks Lounge in North Chicago. Franks Lounge, located at 2234 Green Bay Road, has two machines which were installed on Monday. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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After more than three years of court challenges, adjustments to local regulations, applications from vendors and background checks, video gaming in Illinois finally moved from a shady backroom activity to a legal business practice in the fall of 2012, a development that ranked as the News-Sun’s No. 9 story of the year.

“Video gaming has commenced in 65 licensed locations throughout the state,” the Illinois Gaming Board announced on Oct. 9. “A total of 278 video-gaming terminals became operational and patrons were allowed to begin placing wagers on a variety of games.”

All told, as video gaming rolled out that week, the board had licensed 324 liquor-pouring establishments statewide, along with 12 truck stops, four veterans organizations and one fraternal organization — and another 2,223 license applications were being processed.

In Lake County, 17 establishments had been granted a video-gaming license by the state as of Dec. 27, including Bertrand Lounge in Waukegan, Four Coynes in Round Lake, Fox Lake Country Club and Memories APR in Lake Villa. Those host communities were among 663 in Illinois that enacted ordinances specifically to allow video gaming, while Barrington, Deerfield, Highland Park, Lake Zurich and Lake County were among the 311 communities or counties statewide that either enacted a ban on the practice or allowed an existing ban to continue.

Also as of Dec. 27, no less than 79 Lake County establishments had a license application pending before the gaming board, primarily taverns and restaurants but also operations like the Foss Park Golf Course clubhouse in North Chicago, Kristof’s Entertainment Center in Round Lake Beach and the Lake County Sports Center in Waukegan.

Also on the list of prospective video gamers are such veterans or fraternal organizations as American Legion Post 703 in Fox Lake, American Legion Post 911 in Wauconda, Moose Lodge No. 1969 in Wauconda, Veterans of Foreign Wars Sequoit Post 4551 in Antioch and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1293 in Waukegan. At least one county truck stop, Wadsworth Plaza on Route 41, was also on the list of those hoping to participate in the state’s newest version of legalized gaming.

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