The Hoffman Estates Park District's Recreation Committee Tuesday voted 6-1 to recommend a one-year test of video gambling in the clubhouse bar of the Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club.
The recommendation came after an additional month of soliciting comment via e-mail from members of the park district-owned country club. Tuesday's lone vote against the recommendation came from Community Representative Scott Koltz, who felt the pursuit of business interests -- particularly the offering of alcohol and gambling -- was in conflict with the park district's overall mission of promoting health and fitness.
Nevertheless, club member Rich Nowicki advocated the allowance of gambling as a way of making money at the clubhouse and for the country club as a whole. He added that a golf course too difficult for any but the best players won't generate revenue by itself.
"We serve alcohol at a golf course and we're worried about five gambling terminals?" Nowicki said. "If you're going to generate revenue at this golf course, 100 percent you need to try this with video gambling. This is something that needs to pass."
Last month, a survey was e-mailed to all 160 preferred tee-time and league members. The park district received 52 replies back, a response rate of 32.5 percent.
Among the responses, 23 people were in favor (44.2 percent), 19 against (36.5 percent), and 10 had no opinion (19.2 percent).
Last month's meeting discussion centered around the dilemma which Koltz touched on again Tuesday -- whether video gambling provides a useful and legal competitive advantage in attracting day-to-day business as well as golf tournaments, or is a social vice with which a public park district shouldn't be involved.
Park district Executive Director Dean Bostrom said the clubhouse bar is the only park district facility being considered for video gambling. Under Illinois law, video gambling is restricted to facilities with a liquor license. Bostrom said the serving of alcohol itself could be argued to pose a much higher immediate risk to public safety than gambling, though both are legal.
The park district board is expected to vote on the recommendation March 25.
Gambling: Park district board expected to vote March 25