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updated: 9/20/2013 8:40 PM

Bartlett officials worried about growth in video gaming

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  • BILL ZARS/ There is debate in Bartlett about the big number of video gambling businesses that want to come to town.

    BILL ZARS/ There is debate in Bartlett about the big number of video gambling businesses that want to come to town.


The Bartlett village board heard more details about two proposed video gabling bars this week, and the response from some board members and residents was not positive.

The new businesses are Elsie's, which wants to open at 225 S. Main St. in a former deli in Bartlett Town Center, and Maxine's, which is eyeing a portion of a former Blockbuster store at 801 S. Rt. 59 in the Brewster Creek Shopping Center.

Five existing businesses in the village have already been granted a state license for video gambling.

Two new video gambling bars with concepts similar to Elsie's and Maxine's were approved by the village earlier this year and are currently working on their build-outs while waiting for a state license.

Architectural renderings for video gambling bars often show small spaces with a few tables and chairs and a line of five machines, the limit set by the state. The menus usually include appetizers and small plates, along with a variety of liquor.

Village officials and residents expressed concerns Tuesday about too many businesses in town having video gambling. There was also a lengthy discussion about the proposed location for Elsie's, which is right below the Bartlett Town Center Lofts where at least 16 units are occupied.

"It's a great concept, but take it to a strip mall," said Lofts resident D.J. Mills, adding that nine children under the age of 12 live in the condominiums. "I don't think this is children-friendly."

Trustee Michael Camerer said he too had serious concerns with the location of Elsie's.

"I want to see business come into town, I want to see business succeed," he said. "But it concerns me when a business like this comes in to a residential area, in proximity to children, and the type of values that we're instilling into our community."

Trustee T.L. Arends said she thinks the village already has enough gambling establishments.

"I wish we didn't have all these gaming applications because I don't think they do the town any good," she said after asking Elsie's owner Hal Lieberman some hard questions about whether he knew how his establishment would affect the people living above it.

Trustee Eric Shipman said he appreciates Elsie's and Maxine's desire to move to the village, but the board will have to carefully consider their proposals.

"This is a very sensitive topic for members of the board," he said.

Development Director Jim Ploncynski said now that the village board has reviewed plans for the two additional video gambling bars, the proposals will move on to the plan commission for a review and public hearing.

Village attorney Bryan Mraz also presented the board with details about how to close a loophole in the village's current video gambling ordinance.

The change would require businesses applying for a liquor license to state at the time of application whether they plan to apply for a video gambling license. Those planning to sell liquor on the premises would also need to submit a site plan and interior floor plan with their application.

If the applicant makes a false statement in the liquor license application, it would become an additional basis for the liquor license to be suspended or revoked.

The board will take a final vote on that ordinance at the next village board meeting.

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