Video gambling regrets? Long Grove officials raise concerns after granting sixth license

Some Long Grove village board members expressed concern about video gambling machines that are allowed at bars and restaurants in town as another establishment was approved for a license.

Board members agreed an informal workshop session should be held to discuss video gambling and receive resident feedback on the issue. Video gambling was approved in Long Grove in 2015 after former Village President Angie Underwood broke a 3-3 board vote.

Trustee Rita O'Connor, who is among those voicing concerns about video gambling, said she'd like to find out if it's an issue for residents. Opponents have said the terminals don't gel with Long Grove's rural charm, while backers contend the revenue helps businesses.

“Pro or con, I'd just be interested,” O'Connor said.

By a 4-2 vote, the village board recently approved the sixth video gambling liquor license for the new Chit Chat Room at 132 Old McHenry Road in downtown Long Grove. That agenda item led the board to discuss video gambling in general before granting the license to the Chit Chat Room, which will feature craft cocktails, specialty beer and small plates in the former Un-Wined.

Trustee Michael Sarlitto and O'Connor voted against Chit Chat Room's video gambling liquor license.

“I just don't think video gaming is in harmony with our (comprehensive) plan or with our family-friendly Long Grove historic culture and everything else,” Sarlitto said.

Trustee Bobbie O'Reilly, who voted in favor of the latest video gambling license, said it's not obvious the devices are at village businesses.

“We don't have signs,” O'Reilly said. “It's kind of not secret exactly, but it isn't broadcast.”

State records show Long Grove has five establishments with video gambling liquor licenses and a combined 21 terminals. From January through July, the village's share of the tax on the machines was $14,450 and the state's cut was $73,486, according to the most recent Illinois Gaming Board report.

Bars, restaurants, truck stops and fraternal organizations in communities that allow video gambling can have up to five machines under the state law approved in 2009.

Five percent of net revenue goes to a municipality and 25 percent to the state, with the terminal operator and establishment splitting the remainder.

O'Connor said a possible alternative to video gambling machines for Long Grove bars and restaurants could be arcade and other games. She said she had a good time on a visit to Emporium Logan Square in Chicago, a bar featuring craft beer and skee ball, air hockey, pinball and arcade games.

These types of arcade bars “are very, very interesting and compelling when you walk in the door,” she said.

Long Grove Village Attorney Victor Filippini said state law limits what controls towns can place on video gambling liquor licenses.

However, he added, the village likely could create various license categories, such as one of limited duration. Filippini said Long Grove has time to address the issue because annual liquor licenses are renewed the start of the fiscal year May 1.

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  The new Chit Chat Room in Long Grove, left, recently was approved for a video gambling liquor license. That agenda item led Long Grove village board members to agree an informal workshop should be held to discuss the overall issue of video gambling in town. Paul Valade/
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