Mount Prospect rejects video gambling despite business protests
Despite pleas from local restaurant and bar owners, the Mount Prospect village board unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday prohibiting video gambling in town.
While proponents of video gambling said the vote would cost the village hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue and harm local businesses, officials said they have concerns about the lack of local control and the impact of more gambling on the community.
"My sense is that the people of Mount Prospect don't want video gaming in our community," trustee Paul Hoefert said. "Things like video gaming define a community. They characterize a community. They define the values of that community.
"And I think the people of this town just don't want to be defined that way. I won't sell the soul of our community for a little bit of tax dollars."
Village Manager Michael Janonis said the village recently conducted a survey on the topic among residents and businesses. While only 59 responded, the overall sentiment was against video gambling.
However, Ted Pappas, owner of PAPS Ultimate Bar & Grill in Mount Prospect, said he already is losing business as a result of gambling available in nearby communities.
"I just plead with you to think about what impact it would have on us. We are directly next door, across the street from Des Plaines. (Customers) go there. I see it," he said. "They're going to go to Elk Grove. It's down the block."
Pappas said costs have increased on everything from liquor taxes to food costs and labor, and he's had to lower prices to retain customers.
"This other stream of income would be a blessing for a lot of businesses," he said.
Chuck Hamburg, who teaches casino management and gambling theory at Roosevelt University in Chicago, warned that the village could lose 20 percent of its restaurant and bar business if it did not allow the machines.
"I believe that if you don't vote in video gaming, you're making a tragic mistake," he said.
Mayor Irvana Wilks was unmoved. She said the state's regulations would give the village little chance to protect itself if, for instance, a business allowed a minor to gamble. Mount Prospect could not revoke a liquor or business license, and the most it could do was fine up to $5,000.
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