Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer predicts an off-track betting operation from Buffalo Grove will be under construction in his city in about a month.
The city council is expected to vote in two weeks on an ordinance that would make such a facility legal in the city. A first reading of the change in the zoning ordinance came Monday night without a council vote.
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Hawthorne Race Course has applied for a special use permit to build an OTB at Players Pub and Grill, 1250 S. River Road, said Steve Skiber, Prospect Heights director of building and zoning. The council seemed receptive to the business, he said.
Hawthorne is also seeking a new location in Buffalo Grove since the restaurant that housed it, Adam's Roadhouse, 301 N. Milwaukee Ave., went into receivership. One possibility the company is working on is the Village Bar & Grill at the golf course that Buffalo Grove owns.
Jeff Kras, chief financial officer of Hawthorne, told Prospect Heights 5th Ward Alderman Bree Higgins that the company would like to operate in Prospect Heights and Buffalo Grove if both could be worked out because the demographics of the communities are different.
Helmer said after the meeting that he had contacted Hawthorne because an OTB facility would bring $60,000 to $100,000 in sales taxes to the city annually. He also introduced representatives of the company to the Players Pub and Grill owners, he said, and both sides were enthusiastic.
One of the state requirements for an OTB is that it be with a restaurant that serves alcohol, the mayor said.
Hawthorne would build an addition to the pub so that entrance could be regulated to comply with state law and city ordinance, Kras said. The state allows people over 18 to wager, but Buffalo Grove restricted that to those over 21, he said.
The Buffalo Grove operation has been very successful, and Hawthorne is determined to continue somewhere in the area, Kras said. The fact that the industry is so heavily regulated makes pursuing both options a good idea, he said, and the company has agreements in principle with Players and the village of Buffalo Grove.
Prospect Heights Police Chief Jamie Dunne said after the meeting that he had investigated Hawthorne when he worked for the Buffalo Grove police department.
He said the OTB would be a "huge asset" to Prospect Heights and required minimal law enforcement involvement in Buffalo Grove.