HEYWORTH — A Heyworth bar owner faces felony charges for allegedly having illegal video gaming machines in the business — the first such case to be filed in McLean County since the state approved video gambling last year.
David Rehker, 54, was taken into custody Friday after agents with the Illinois Gaming Board and the McLean County Sheriff’s Department seized seven machines from Circle II Bar and Grill at 503 W. Cleveland St. He was released after posting $325 on a charge of possession of an illegal gambling device.
According to a prosecutor’s statement, an agent with the state liquor control commission saw the machines during an inspection Thursday and reported the alleged offense involving machines with reset buttons, which are illegal because they allow local operators to run an independent payout system. Agents returned Friday to investigate.
New video gaming laws required business owners to replace old machines and apply for a license. About 40 businesses currently are licensed in McLean County under the new rules that produce some revenue for state and local jurisdictions.
The state agents asked for the county’s assistance Friday after indicating that Heyworth Police Chief Chris Lane was unable to help, said McLean County Sheriff’s Lt. Brent Wick.
“We were asked for help by the Illinois Gaming Board agents and that’s what we did. They had a legitimate need,” said Wick.
Lane said Monday he was contacted by the county and asked to be at the business “to stand by and keep the peace.”
Heyworth Mayor Larry Mowery said that he was informed of the enforcement action by Lane after agents ar-rived in town Friday.
Mowery said he was unclear as to which agencies take the lead for enforcing the gambling regulations in small communities. Gaming agents work with local jurisdictions — in this case Heyworth police — on such cases, ac-cording to state law.
“All I expect is to be informed. The police have to do what the police have to do,” said Mowery.
The mayor said Lane was at the Circle II when the machines were confiscated. He said he did not know why the county was asked to assist but he was grateful that the bulky machines were taken to the sheriff’s office for storage and not the Heyworth police station.
“I would have to think about storing the machines. I don’t know that we’d have room for those,” said Mowery.