Cary president lukewarm to idea of video gaming cafes

CARY – With video gambling now legal in town, village officials are preparing for the possibility that they will be approached to have video gambling cafes, something the village president signaled he would not be in favor of.

After the state approved video gambling terminals to be allowed in bars and restaurants with liquor licenses, there has been a push to open video gambling cafes.

The cafes are geared to attracting people to use the terminals, rather than terminals being an ancillary component of a business, said Chris Stilling, director of community and economic development.

“Somebody like Tracks or Coleman’s [In the Park], if they were to have a gaming terminal, obviously they have a track record of being a restaurant and bar, it would just be an ancillary use to that,” Stilling said. “Versus something like these video gaming cafes have really risen in response to the growth of video gaming in the state of Illinois.”

Stilling said the cafes usually don’t make the capital investment into making a full commercial kitchen and have food cooked off-site and brought to the establishment.

Nothing in the ordinance passed on Tuesday by the Village Board prevents a video gaming cafe from proposing a location in town, Stilling said.

The places would need to have liquor licenses before applying for a gaming license from the state. Whether the village grants a liquor license to an establishment is up to Village President Mark Kownick in his role as liquor commissioner.

Kownick said he supported video gaming as a way for businesses to gain revenue to reinvest into their buildings but said he doesn’t support video gaming cafes.

“To have food brought in, like a commissary kind of a thing, it just doesn’t appeal to me,” Kownick said. “I would rather look at opportunities that would serve the entire community, not just a niche.”

He said he much rather have a restaurateur come in, with a plan for a full-service menu, a bar and video gambling as a side feature.

“We’ve been charged with bringing additional restaurants and things to the village of Cary, which is very important to our constituents,” Kownick said.

“As it stands right now a [video gambling cafe] is not a direction we need to be going,” Kownick added.

Trustee Bruce Kaplan, who also is a real estate agent, said he’s seen video gaming cafes become more popular in towns that have authorized video gambling. He added the cafes also try to attract a different demographic than taverns: women who are age 35 and older.

“[The cafes] take up vacant space, they serve three meals a day, they pay sales tax revenue, they hire local people [as] employees,” Kaplan said on Tuesday. “I personally don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t want to incorporate that into this ordinance.”

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