Carol Stream village board members say there's a stink attached to allowing video gambling within village limits, but they might still hold their noses and approve it.
At a workshop meeting Monday, they expressed an early preference for overturning a 2009 village ordinance that effectively bans video gambling at licensed establishments that serve alcohol.
Like other Illinois municipalities, Carol Stream is revisiting the issue now that the Illinois Gaming Board has begun issuing licenses to establishments for video gambling machines. It comes three years after the state approved a $31 billion capital improvement package that allowed video gambling -- but also let municipalities opt out. It's taken that long for the state regulations over video gambling to be put in place.
Already, municipalities such as Winfield, Huntley, Fox Lake, Wauconda, Elk Grove Village, Prospect Heights -- as well as Kane County -- have approved ordinances allowing video gambling. Apparently that's put the pressure on Carol Stream.
"Our six trustees and I are gonna take a lot of heat for putting gambling in this town," Village President Frank Saverino said. "But everyone else is doing it. If it's gonna happen, I'd rather be part of it than the restaurants in our town losing business from it."
Besides next door neighbor Winfield who overturned its villagewide ban in March, Saverino noted the threat that new off-track betting facilities in Glendale Heights and Villa Park pose to local businesses who could profit from video gambling terminals.
About a half-dozen local bar and restaurant owners attended Monday's meeting, most expressing support to a change in local law that would allow them to have the machines.
"We really need this," said Cons Theros, owner of Shotz (formerly Playoffs), 720 E. North Ave. "We can't have people going to Glendale Heights."
Village officials say there are 16 licensed establishments and one veterans establishment in Carol Stream that would be eligible to operate video gambling terminals under state law.
The state allows each establishment to have as many as five such machines. If every eligible establishment had that number, the village estimates it could receive up to $191,250 in annual revenue from tax proceeds, though Village Manager Joe Breinig admits that's a lofty number.
Under the state's video gaming act, municipalities can get 5 percent of net income from gambling terminals after winnings are paid out. The state will receive 25 percent, while bar owners and machine operators evenly split the rest.
The village plans to charge bar owners a fee to go along with their state video gaming permit, but it's still undecided how much that would be.
The village board could take an official vote as early as Aug. 6. It could then take another few months for licenses to be approved by the gaming board and machines to be put in bars.