Mount Prospect May Be Closer To Allowing Video Gambling

Mount Prospect village trustees continue to debate allowing video gaming in the community, possibly as soon as August.

During a March committee of the whole meeting, trustees directed village staff to write a draft ordinance for members of the Mount Prospect Economic Development Commission (EDC). The EDC reviewed it in May and supported allowing video gaming in the village. Allowing state-regulated video gaming machines could provide additional revenue for up to 50 liquor-serving establishments in the village.

Per the state Video Gaming Act, video gaming is only allowed in businesses where alcoholic beverages are permitted for sale by the local municipality.

The draft ordinance discussed during Tuesday’s village board committee of the whole meeting creates separate liquor licenses for video gaming. The draft states an establishment must possess a video gaming license issued by the Illinois Gaming Board, in accordance with the provisions of the Video Gaming Act. Licenses will not be issued to any establishment located within 100 feet of any educational facility or within 100 feet of a place of worship.

The draft also stipulates video gaming be located in an area of the business that is restricted to patrons 21 years of age or older. The number of gaming terminals inside an establishment must not exceed five.

Local regulations in the draft ordinance say the percentage of income received from video gaming must not exceed 30% of the establishment’s net income. Another regulation states it would be unlawful to advertise video gaming by way of a sign visible from any street, alley or public right-of-way. A physical barrier to the gaming area would be required to keep out patrons under 21.

Establishments in Mount Prospect would be required to install, operate and maintain a video camera surveillance system capable of recording clear and unobstructed images where the terminals are located and retain the recordings for a minimum of 30 days. Those establishments would also need to be equipped with a direct connect burglar alarm system to police.

Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dawn Fletcher Collins told trustees Tuesday that allowing video gaming would help boost local restaurant performance and provide increased revenue for those businesses.

Charity Johns of Laredo Hospitality, a Des Plaines-based company that owns 57 video gaming cafes, told the village board her business is not just about machines. “We try to create a hospitality experience for those that enjoy gambling and we have had no issues with police or anyone,” Johns said. “When considering permitting video gaming, which we hope you give to us, but at least restaurateurs, we hope you don’t tie their hands in regard to the revenue…30% feels a little heavy lifted.”

Chris Bozonelos of Mrs. P and Me restaurant, who said he would be in favor of video gaming if approved, suggested instituting a waiting period for new restaurants before granting a video gaming license.

“We do not want people coming into Mount Prospect solely for video gaming,” he said. “At least a year should be given before a video gaming license is given. My concern is not the business, but the operator.”

Trustee Paul Hoefert agreed, saying video gaming should be ancillary. “The main line of business should be the restaurant and bar for people to gather,” Hoefert said.

Raul Romero of Hacienda El Sombrero restaurant told the board many of his customers ask why he doesn’t offer video gaming inside his establishment. Some customers stay for a short time then leave to go to restaurants that do offer video gaming, he said.

“This is not something that is addictive or for minors, but for adults and seniors and people that come to the bar, which at my business has the bar totally separate from the restaurant,” he said.

Jim Pappas of Paps Ultimate Bar & Grill told the board that similar establishments in neighboring communities offer video gaming. He just wants to remain competitive.

“If no one had it, we wouldn’t be talking, but there is video gaming just down my street and this is a service we can’t provide,” he said. “We work hard for what we have and we just want to be able to compete.”

Trustee Michael Zadel said the state has proven its case in regulating the gaming industry, with many neighboring communities where video gaming is allowed reporting minimal problems and more revenue. He said he would like to see a revised draft ordinance as soon as possible.

“Time has come to make a decision and not push it off like we have in the past,” Zadel said. “I would be in favor of an ordinance, but would like to see it revised and not pushed off any further.”

Hoefert, who said he is not in favor of video gaming, said: “Gambling is a moral issue and preys on the wrong people. We are a family-oriented community and we try to attract families. Video gaming cheapens the village, but I am not sure how the community at-large feels about it. I would be open to a referendum to see how the community feels and if they are comfortable.”

Trustee Richard Rogers called video gaming the “moral decay of our society.”

“I think it’s the wrong thing and the money collected, more than half leaves the community,” Rogers said. However, he said, not allowing video gaming is unfair for the community as well as businesses that are being put at a disadvantage compared to surrounding communities.

“I see both sides of the issue,” Rogers said.

Trustee Eleni Hatzis said she understands both sides of the issue, too, but wants to make sure struggling business succeed if video gaming revenue is a way to help them out. She said she would support an ordinance as long as it was revised to specifically outline what would be allowed.

Trustee William Grossi said when he ran for trustee over a year ago, he indicated he was against video gaming. However, after looking into the issue further, he realized there is no evidence to show crime goes up because of video gaming, and that the draft ordinance presented provides enough protections with further tweaks to come.

Trustee Colleen Saccotelli said she is more in favor of video gaming now than prior to the meeting. She suggested an open house for residents and business owners to voice their opinions.

“I associated gambling with failure, but I am also a business realist,” Mayor Arlene Juracek said, pointing out that businesses are being put at a disadvantage. “Things change and sometimes you need to catch up. If we were to put this to a vote and have an ordinance that we thought would work, I would vote in favor of gambling, but not the cafes, because that is too much in your face. This is more about assisting restaurants to be competitive.”

Village staff will gather more information in the coming weeks pertaining to the proposed 30% net income regulation. A community outreach meeting is also being considered for July to garner public input prior to revising the draft further.


via Google Alert – illinois gambling

June 13, 2018 at 08:03PM


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