Mount Prospect officials might find video gambling distasteful, but they're growing more receptive to the idea if the machines keep village restaurants competitive with those in surrounding communities.
"We need to move this along. Our restaurants have been waiting for this," Mayor Arlene Juracek said at Tuesday's committee-of-the-whole meeting when she and fellow village board members indicated they would support allowing video gambling in town.
"I think the state has proven itself capable of regulating the industry, which was one of my big concerns when the idea was first introduced," Trustee Michael Zadel said. "I think neighboring communities have implemented this with a minimal amount of problems."
While the village staff works to draft an ordinance, officials said they will reach out for public feedback.
Juracek said there has been a mix of opinions on the topic. Facebook posts have indicated indifference, while emails and comments at Coffee with Council events have indicated residents are uncomfortable with the concept. The question was also addressed on a community survey, with respondents marking it as a low priority.
Trustees wrestled with the moral aspect of the choice Tuesday.
"Video gaming to me feels like it is in conflict with the nature and character of Mount Prospect," Trustee Paul Hoefert said. "With all due respect, it feels like it cheapens our village."
Hoefert said he wants to hear from the community and suggested an advisory referendum.
But Trustee William Grossi, a onetime opponent, said he now understands village restaurants' "dilemma."
"I'm not sure we should be in the business of regulating morality, but I do think we should be in the business of helping our business community," he said.
Several village business owners also weighed in Tuesday, including Chris Bozonelos of Mrs. P. and Me restaurant.
"As a resident here in town, I don't want people coming to this town solely for video gaming," he said.
Jim Pappas of Paps Ultimate Bar & Grill said the presence of gambling in neighboring towns makes it necessary in Mount Prospect for his business to compete.
"The situation now is that all of our neighboring communities have this video gaming. And that's the only reason that we're here," he said. "If nobody had it, we wouldn't be here talking about this."