Video gambling cafes could become neighbors in Wheeling

Wheeling has approved plans for a video gambling cafe to open on Dundee Road, three doors down from a similar operation.

The village board voted 4-1 Monday to allow Kelly's Cafe at 30 W. Dundee Road. Final approval depends on a decision by the Illinois Gaming Board.

If the gambling cafe gains state approval, it would open three storefronts away from Tracy's Bistro. The village board approved plans in November for that gambling cafe to open at 18 W. Dundee Road. Tracy's also is awaiting state approval.

In approving Kelly's, village trustees went against the recommendation of their plan commission, which opposed the proposal because of its proximity to the other gambling cafe. However, village staff members determined its location should not prevent it from getting special use approval.

The vote prompted another discussion among village trustees about the potential saturation of video gambling in town.

"I don't think they're the scourge on the community that people make them out to be," Trustee Joe Vito said. "I understand they do prey on some people and that can be a problem, but people can make their own choices."

Trustee David Vogel, who opposes the expansion of video gambling in Wheeling, disagreed.

"I do think we've reached the saturation point. There's only so many of these places we can have," Vogel said.

In April, the village removed a cap on video gambling cafes that had allowed three Stella's Place locations to hold the only such licenses.

A video gambling cafe can have a maximum of 30 seats, and at least half its gross revenue must be from food and beverages. The primary business is video gambling.

Restaurants with video gambling must have a minimum of 30 seats and serve lunch or dinner at least five days a week. As businesses have continued to approach the village about opening the establishments, village trustees have debated whether it was the correct decision.

Fifteen businesses, including restaurants, bars and video gambling cafes, have gambling machines in Wheeling, according to state records. Another four locations are awaiting approval, not including Kelly's Cafe.

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