Wheeling approves first video gambling cafe since lifting moratorium

Updated 6/7/2018 3:36 PM

One new video gambling cafe proposed for Wheeling got the go-ahead this week while a second proposal is on hold for now.

Village trustees approved plans Monday for May's Lounge, which also serves tapas and craft beer, to open in a shopping mall at 280 E. Dundee Road. It's the first gambling cafe to gain approval since the village lifted a moratorium on video such businesses in April.


Previously, three Stella's Place video gambling cafes held the only available licenses.

The village board voted 5-2 to approve the concept. Village President Pat Horcher and Trustee Dave Vogel -- the lone opponent of lifting the moratorium three months ago -- opposed the plans.

"I'm actually kind of torn about the gambling lounges," Horcher said. "We're not the moral police, and it's not our job to say what's right or wrong."

But, Horcher said, there's a risk that the village becomes saturated with video gambling, and he'd rather fill vacancies with traditional restaurants or commercial retail businesses.

May's Lounge opened locations in Lake Zurich and Hickory Hills this year. The owners previously included plans on their website to open a second Wheeling location, but told village officials that was an error. The company does intend to open locations this summer in Niles, Berwyn, Burbank and Carpentersville.

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The owners said the Wheeling location could open in a couple of months.

Meanwhile, an attempt by Eagle Gourmet Cafe, 1201 W. Dundee Road, to change its classification to a video gambling cafe is on hold. The village board voted to delay a decision on the matter because owners of the restaurant did not attend the meeting.

Changing the license to a video gambling cafe -- instead of a restaurant with gambling -- would allow the Eagle Gourmet to operate differently.

A restaurant with gambling must have seating for at least 30 people and serve lunch or dinner at least five days a week. A video gambling cafe may have a maximum of 30 seats and the primary business of the establishment is video gambling. Nonalcoholic drinks and food must account for half the total gross revenue.

Meanwhile, a third business plans to add video gambling. Dundee Hot Dogs, 849 W. Dundee Road, gained approval Monday to sell beer and wine, as well as operate video gambling.

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