Philosophical debate and a 5-2 vote Tuesday accompanied Hoffman Estates Park District commissioners' grudging approval of a one-year trial for video gambling in the restaurant of the Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club.
Virtually all commissioners expressed some sort of personal concern with the allowance of gambling in a park district facility, but the majority believed no harm would be done to test it as a way of making the club more competitive in attracting weddings and other group events.
"If this becomes a problem, I think we will know ... and I won't have a problem getting rid of it," Commissioner Ron Evans said.
All agreed that they would have to consider more than just the amount of money made when considering the success of the trial period next year.
Board President Keith Evans made the strongest argument against even the trial period, which he and Commissioner Kaz Mohan voted against.
"I still have a perception that there is something unwholesome about gambling," Evans said. "I have this perception, and I think it's shared by some residents, that it's a point of no return ... that we'll do anything for a buck."
Former park Commissioner Robert Steinberg attended the meeting to repeat his insistence that gambling violated the health-and-fitness philosophy of a public park district.
"I'm 100 percent against it," Steinberg said. "I don't care if Elk Grove (Park District) did it. I don't care if Foss (Park District in North Chicago) did it. This does not belong in the park district."
Hoffman Estates Park District Director Dean Bostrom said Illinois allows video gambling only at establishments already licensed to sell alcohol -- another perceived vice that could be seen as a more immediate danger to public safety, he added.
Because winter weather allows the Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club to be open only about nine months a year, that's the actual amount of time the trial period will last.
But when those cumulative nine months will begin depends on how long it takes the park district to be approved by the Illinois Gaming Board's application process -- probably two to six months, Bostrom said.