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updated: 11/9/2012 1:49 PM

Hanover Park OKs video gambling to aid children's programs

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  • Rodney Craig

      Rodney Craig

 

Prompted by neighboring communities that have made video gambling legal in recent months, Hanover Park is following suit to give eligible businesses a chance to compete.

But there's a catch: Any revenue generated for the village instead will benefit the Barrington Road youth sports complex and other children's programs.

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"I'm not happy with video gambling in general, but I'm happy the proceeds will help our youth," village Trustee Ed Zimel said. "That's the only reason I said yes to the idea."

The new ordinance, unanimously approved by the village board last week, allows video gambling at licensed retail establishments in Hanover Park where alcohol is served, as well as certain fraternal and veterans organizations. Licensed truck stops on at least three acres that have a convenience store and diesel fuel islands also are eligible.

All establishments must receive a license from the Illinois Gaming Board and pay the village a $500 annual tax per machine. Under state statute, municipalities receive 5 percent of the revenue each terminal generates. Up to five machines will be allowed at a single establishment.

No Hanover Park businesses have a pending application as of Nov. 5, according to the state agency's website.

The village specifically prohibited video gambling soon after Illinois legalized it in 2009.

"The state didn't have its act together with this whole thing, so we wanted to make sure there was no possibility of it happening," Mayor Rodney Craig said.

Officials began reconsidering several months ago at the request of business owners who attended a board workshop. Craig also pointed to neighboring communities that allow video gambling, including Hoffman Estates and Carol Stream.

Trustees eventually got on board with Zimel's idea to funnel revenue to the Hurricanes football field and Little League Baseball fields at the southeast corner of Barrington and Irving Park roads.

The organizations currently manage the facility and pay the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to use the land, but the village is closing in on a deal to lease the property. Officials want to make improvements, including adding a soccer field.

"With everything parents have to deal with nowadays, it's been getting more difficult for them to maintain the fields," Craig said. "We have no idea what kind of dollars (video gambling) will bring in, but we see this as an opportunity to be fair to our businesses and at the same time support our youth."

Since Hanover Park is last in a long line of communities to approve video gambling, it could be a while before local patrons place their bets. Illinois Gaming Board spokesman Gene O'Shea said licenses are first-come, first-served, so new applications go to the bottom of the pile.

"How quickly the applications are considered depends on the complexity of ownership and the ability of people to fill out the forms correctly," O'Shea said. "Then there's the issue of operators getting their financing approved, so it's really impossible to say how long the process takes."

Gambling: Village could be waiting a long time for license

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