Carol Stream sports bar owner Cons Theros says he's been trying to compete with similar businesses in the area, but it's all been made tougher knowing some of them have something his bar doesn't: video gambling.
His bar, Playoffs, is located on North Avenue on the east side of Carol Stream's village limits and borders Glendale Heights, where an off-track-betting facility opened in April. Further east along North Avenue in Villa Park is another OTB. And to the west is Winfield, one of the first municipalities in DuPage County this year to overturn a ban on video gaming, opening the door for local liquor establishments to get state licenses for the machines.
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Now Theros is one of the first Carol Stream bar owners to line up for the same, following the Carol Stream village board's approval this week of an ordinance that overturns a 2009 local ban of the machines at licensed establishments that serve alcohol.
Theros, like village leaders, is placing a wager on video gaming in hopes it will yield winnings. Bar owners and machine operators each receive 35 percent of net income from gambling terminals after winnings are paid out, the state receives 25 percent and municipalities receive 5 percent.
"We expect to do well. We're hearing from other states (that establishments) are getting very good revenue. We're very excited," Theros said.
He says he's already applied for licenses for five video gambling machines from the Illinois Gaming Board -- the maximum number permitted by the state's video gaming act.
His supplier says the machines could be ready by next month, though it's likely the state's approval process will take longer, Theros said.
Village officials have said overturning the local ban was important to put Carol Stream businesses on an even playing field with those in neighboring communities where video gambling is allowed.
It also could provide an additional revenue stream for village coffers -- $191,250 a year by the highest estimate, if all 17 eligible liquor establishments in town apply for and receive licenses for five video machines.
"This was a tough decision for us to make but revenue streams are drying up from the state and federal government," Village President Frank Saverino said. "We have to start looking out for things we have to do in ways of raising money."
The village also will charge a $500 local annual permit fee for each video terminal, as opposed to a $2,500 lump sum fee for every establishment originally proposed. Businesses and village staff agreed that number was excessive, Village Manager Joe Breinig said.
What exactly the village plans to do with proceeds from video gambling hasn't yet been decided, but its expected to be discussed during future budget meetings, Breinig said.