Cary debates video gambling

Business owners file petition to have activity legalized in village

CARY – As video gambling has been live in the state for almost a year, one municipality that has prohibited it is now considering a change of heart.

Cary Village Board members on Tuesday discussed the possibility of allowing video gambling in taverns and other establishments at its Administration and Development Committee meeting.

Owners of the Spring Beach Inn, Coleman's in the Park, The Tracks, Galati's Pizza & Pasta and the Maple Tree Inn have all submitted petitions asking the village to legalize video gambling in town.

"It seems enough time has passed to ensure this program does not pose any problems to our community," the petition reads. "We hope that video gaming will provide the much needed entertainment value to our customers who are currently leaving our town to visit, have lunch, dinner and beverages in other towns in close proximity to ours to participate in video gaming."

Village Board members and staff members decided to continue research and ask for as much public input as possible. Staff members hope to have a public forum on the topic in early November for a more in-depth discussion.

In a ordinance passed in 2010 that prohibited video gaming, the village said video gambling would have an adverse effect on residents with the potential of corruption and increased costs to the police department, as well as high social costs.

The only two current members of the Village Board who were on the board in 2010 are Village President Mark Kownick, who was a trustee at the time, and Trustee Rick Dudek.

Dudek said he still feels the same way.

"For me, I still think those impacts are potentially negative impacts to the village and to its residents," Dudek said.

Kownick said the village needs to do its due diligence and should get public comment on the issue, from others than just business owners.

Video gaming was allowed in the state as a revenue source for the $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital bill. Other revenue sources included increased fees on driver's licenses and vehicle plate stickers and sales taxes on candy and soda, among other things.

Among the communities that allow video gaming are Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Fox River Grove and McHenry, as well as unincorporated areas in McHenry County.

Trustee Bruce Kaplan said the village should listen to the requests of its business community. He added that lottery tickets already exist as a form of entertainment and gambling.

"I do not like the idea of our residents taking their money and spending in somebody else's community," Kaplan said.

Chris McSwain of A.H. Entertainers, which supplies video gaming terminals, said bars on average make about $5,000 a month from having video gaming terminals in their establishments.

Chris Hesch, also of A.H. Entertainers, said bar owners with video gaming are able to renovate their buildings, which helps employ even more people.

Brett Coleman, who owns Coleman's in the Park, said with video gaming, couples could come to a bar together, with one playing video poker and the other watching a sporting event.

"People and residents who don't like gaming because of the moral issue... are probably not the same people who go out and have a cheeseburger at The Tracks or Coleman's," Coleman said.

Kelli Joseph, the owner of Kelli's Cuckoo's Nest, said people are starting to spend money again in the recovering economy and asked for video gambling to be allowed in town.

"It's already legal in our state," Joseph said. "We're watching our money walk right down the road."

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