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updated: 2/11/2014 5:04 AM

Hoffman Estates parks consider video gambling at golf course

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The Hoffman Estates Park District will hold a public hearing Tuesday night on whether it should allow video gambling in the clubhouse bar of the Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club.

The district's Recreation Committee is expected to make a recommendation to park commissioners during the 7 p.m. meeting at the Triphahn Center, 1685 W. Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates.

A former president of the park board is arguing against video gambling at any park district facility, and claiming the district hasn't done enough to draw public attention to the issue.

"This is not the purpose park districts are for," Robert Steinberg said. "This is not why we bought the golf course."

Steinberg said he believes exposure to video gambling -- and its potential addicts -- could be harmful to children who accompany their parents to the country club.

He also accused the park district of trying to obscure its discussion of the issue by starting it before the holidays.

"They're following their procedures," Steinberg conceded. "That doesn't mean it's fair."

But park district officials said all the discussion so far has been simply to decide whether the issue should be considered at all. Having decided so, they say the intent now is to weigh the merits as publicly as possible.

The matter was put to all the nonelected members of the district's three committees, Executive Director Dean Bostrom said. All 15 said the process should go forward. Patrons of the country club have been polled, and surrounding condominium owners notified, he added.

Board President Keith Evans said he's personally opposed to gambling, but his responsibilities as an elected official require him to fully consider the matter.

"We have a fiduciary responsibility to the district," Evans said. "We're doing this under valid and thorough consideration. We're not doing our job if we don't hear it out."

Bostrom said district staff recommends giving video gambling a one-year trial, probably with no more than five terminals at the course.

There's no hesitation about identifying the facility as a bar, he added. Sixty percent of the club's revenues come from alcohol sales and minors can only enter with an adult.

Any recommendation the committee makes Tuesday would be considered by the board of commissioners on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Even approval at that stage would begin a two- to six-month process before the state would issue a license, Bostrom said.

If the park district allows video gambling at the golf course, it would be following the lead of the Elk Grove Park District, which in December obtained licenses for terminals at its Fox Run Golf Course.

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