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updated: 5/25/2012 6:01 PM

Elk Grove Park District looks into video gambling

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Elk Grove Park District Board President Bill O'Malley said Friday the district is considering whether to have video gambling machines at Fox Run Golf Links if the village allows video gambling in town.

Commissioners discussed the matter during Thursday night's park board meeting and directed the executive director to look into the application process.

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"There was no vote," O'Malley said. "We came to a consensus to allow the executive director to get more information. We feel that we owe it to our residents to at least explore all the potential revenue sources, and that is just one."

Elk Grove Park District may be the first such government entity to venture into video gambling in the state, he added.

Earlier this week, the Elk Grove Village board conducted a public hearing on the issue to gain input from residents and businesses interested in getting video gambling machines. A majority of the residents who attended voiced support for allowing the machines, while many business owners said their survival depended on them.

The Illinois Gaming Board is expected to start handing out video gambling licenses beginning Aug. 1. The state legalized video gambling in 2009 to raise $31 billion for capital improvements. Nearly 15,000 locations statewide are expected to seek licenses once applications become available, according to the Illinois Gaming Board.

No more than five machines can be placed in licensed truck stops, restaurants with liquor licenses, bars, clubs or halls of fraternal and veterans' organizations.

Fox Run Golf Links Clubhouse has a full-service bar and eatery.

"We chose the golf course because it's a stand-alone facility," O'Malley said. "It's run by an enterprise fund. It would allow us to monitor the gaming and we could see what the profits were and put it right back into our golf course. We've already got cameras out there. It's well monitored."

O'Malley said the park district's interest is purely to secure an additional source of revenue for Fox Run, which though self-sustaining has seen revenues decline in recent years due to the recession.

Within the last nine months, the park district has invested $1 million into the renovation of nine holes and upgrading of the irrigation system, sand traps and infrastructure at the golf course. Another $1 million renovation project will begin in October to upgrade the remaining nine holes.

"We've invested a lot of money into the golf course and we are looking for new revenues to offset that," O'Malley said. "We could do more capital projects based on the money that comes in (from video gambling). Why not let some of the profits from video gaming go back into our community instead of a private, third-party corporation."

O'Malley said the park district wouldn't rely on gambling revenues to fund day-to-day operations, but added that the park board hasn't talked about how to spend such revenues.

"We haven't decided anything," O'Malley said. "We're going to continue to be open. We're going to take input from our residents."

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