Libertyville American Legion wants to start own Queen of Hearts game

 
 
Updated 11/9/2018 5:38 PM
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  • Libertyville American Legion Post 329 is seeking a change in village raffle rules to allow it to run a Queen of Hearts game.

      Libertyville American Legion Post 329 is seeking a change in village raffle rules to allow it to run a Queen of Hearts game. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

American Legion Post 329 in Libertyville wants to cash in on the Queen of Hearts game's popularity and is asking the village to change the amount of allowed winnings in its raffle ordinance, which would be required for it to proceed.

Village officials appear to favor allowing the game, but the requested $2 million ceiling may be too much to start and a much more modest $250,000 is recommended.

In a letter to Mayor Terry Weppler, Post 329 Cmdr. Bruce Matsunaga said the game could be a "substantial source of income" for the organization. The game, he added, would also raise the visibility of the village as it did in McHenry, although plans are being devised to avoid the "mania" that came with it.

McHenry VFW Post 4600 put the Queen of Hearts raffle fundraiser on the map this summer and fall as the pot continued to roll over and reached more than $7 million, attracting months of media attention and drawing huge cash flow and crowds that eventually required special measures to manage.

Post 4600 received 20 percent of the total and is using the proceeds for facility upgrades, including a new parking lot, and veterans programs.

The game in Libertyville would be much more modest, Matsunaga said, as it doesn't have a large rollover pot to start. McHenry's game is set to restart in spring with a pot of $3.4 million.

Libertyville allows for a maximum raffle prize of $20,000 and a maximum of 180 days for the raffle sales. Post 329 is seeking a maximum prize of $2 million and 365 days for sales.

"We plan to change our game so that the kind of mania that occurred in McHenry would not happen in Libertyville," Matsunaga wrote. "Our game would be more modest in its grand prize but more generous in its weekly prizes."

Libertyville's game would not have any restarts, Matsunaga added, and Post 329 is working on procedures to prevent fraud and control crowds if pots reach the $500,000 or $1 million level.

McHenry's success piqued interest in various locales. Lake in the Hills American Legion Post 1231, for example, received approval from Lake in the Hills village board and started its game Thursday with a pot of $1,000.

Libertyville officials likely would set the bar much lower than requested so potential impacts on traffic and parking can be gauged.

"They would like to do it, and I think the board is in favor of it to help them out," Weppler said Friday. "I don't think we'll go that high ($2 million) to begin with but maybe down the road."

Village Administrator Kelly Amidei is recommending a $250,000 maximum -- the same amount allowed for the Gurnee American Legion -- to start, but that could be re-evaluated later.

The village board's license and permits committee will consider the request at 7 p.m. Tuesday at village hall, 118 W. Cook Ave.

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