Some Burr Ridge Village Board members are open to the possibility of legalizing gambling machines, asking the village administrator to gather more information after nine local businesses signed a petition in favor of such gaming.
As the village faces deficits within some of its budgets, some board members said they would be open to this stream of revenue.
Gene Halleran, the owner of County Wine Merchant said he closed his store early to appear before the board April 9.
“These are small restaurants looking for another revenue source,” said Halleran of the signees. “This is something that would help us as business owners.”
John Bittner presented the petition and said he believes the machines could bring in revenue to the village and some businesses.
“This is what the state did to generate revenue,” he said. “If it doesn’t hurt us but benefit us, why shouldn’t we do it?”
Bittner said residents now leave Burr Ridge to go gamble and he claimed restaurants are getting an additional $50,000 to $70,000 per year with the machines.
Bittner said later he doesn’t expect “to get a dime out of it” and he’s not a restaurateur. He said he believes it’s best for the village.
Village Adminsitrator Doug Pollock had already done a little bit of research, and he said neighboring communities do make a bit of money off the machines. Willowbrook had four different locations with 20 terminals total a year ago, Pollock said.
From that, Willowbrook received $37,000 in revenue. He said Indian Head Park raised $55,000 from 15 machines. Both of those totals are revenue within a one-year period.
Pollock called it a community values issue.
“I don’t think it’s a great deal of revenue but it is revenue and every little bit helps, I suppose,” he said.
However, one resident, Ellen Raymond, attended the meeting to oppose gaming machines.
“Why are we talking about this again,” she asked the board.
She said Burr Ridge is an upscale community and is one of the communities, alongside Clarendon Hills and Elmhurst, where the machines are banned.
“I hope you come to the residents and ask us,” she said. “There are a lot of disadvantages to the residents that I think may outweigh the advantages.”
Board member Zachary Mottl pointed out that residents also dislike tax hikes and rate increases.
“I am a fan of finding new ways to collect revenue before we go to tax increases to the residents,” Mottl said. “The village of Burr Ridge is no different than any other community. We have budgets.”
Board member Anita Mital also wanted to research options.
Pollock said in four weeks he’d have more information and the trustees agreed to notify restaurant owners, homeowners and residents to get more community input on the decision.
Jesse Wright is a freelance reporter.
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April 16, 2018 at 05:06PM