Clarendon Hills considers video gambling ban
Jack Tracy, the owner of Tracy's Tavern on 55th Street in Clarendon Hills, wants to have video gambling machines installed inside his business. The Clarendon Hills Village Board is scheduled to vote on an ordinance prohibiting the machines Aug. 20. | Chuck Fieldman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:03PM
CLARENDON HILLS — Based on opinions expressed by trustees at Monday’s Village Board meeting, Clarendon Hills likely will adopt an ordinance Aug. 20 that prohibits video gambling in the village.
The Illinois Video Gaming Act, adopted in 2009 by state lawmakers, allows up to five video gambling machines in facilities with valid liquor licenses. The law is written so that communities not wanting video gambling must take action prohibit it. If no such action is taken, video gambling is allowed by default.
Jack Tracy, the owner of Tracy’s Tavern, 401 55th St., already has applied to the state for a permit that would allow two video gambling machines to be installed inside his business.
Trustees Ed Reid, Paul Pedersen, Mary Williams were outspoken against allowing video gambling in Clarendon Hills, while Steve Wallace, while less emphatic, also was not supportive of the idea. Trustee Paul Flood said he was OK with the idea and added if problems were to develop the Village Board would take another look at it.
One of the major concerns expressed by trustees is that as a nonhome-rule community, Clarendon Hills is only able to allow or not allow video gambling machines, without additional stipulations. Several trustees expressed a concern of possibly having the machines inside of downtown businesses; they were less concerned about the possibly of having machines inside of businesses on 55th Street or Ogden Avenue.
“I’m against it from the aesthetic point of view,” Reid said. “I don’t want to be seen as promoting gambling. It’s not worth the hassle.”
Pedersen added, “We’re a family town, and gambling doesn’t fit.”
Tracy said he was interested in adding video gambling as a way to increase revenue.
“I’m not a gambler, but I am a businessman,” he said. “My business has suffered because of the economy and because of the non-smoking ban the state put in. This is a return of what the state took away from us.”
An outside operator, who would get 35 percent of money put into machines, would install the video gambling machines. The business owner, Tracy in this case, also would get 35 percent, while the state would get 25 percent, and the village’s take would be 5 percent.
Machines would not dispense cash, but rather vouchers that could be placed into an ATM for payment.
Clarendon Hills Village Manager Randy Recklaus said a typical video gambling terminal generates $70 to $90 a day, according to information from the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. He said the village’s share from one machine, based on operation every day of the year, would be about $1,250.
Recklaus said nine businesses in the village have liquor licenses that would make them eligible to have video gambling machines if they are not prohibited by local ordinance.
“Given the limited number of establishments that would be eligible in Clarendon Hills, the argument over whether to allow gambling is more an issue of community character versus private enterprise, as opposed to a financial one,” he said.
When Clarendon Hills officials asked residents in a 2010 community survey if they favored video gaming being allowed in the village the results were overwhelmingly against the measure: 72 percent said “no,” about 14 percent said “yes,” and about 14 percent stated they had no opinion.
The DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference conducted a study earlier this year about video gambling. Of the 31 municipalities that responded, 23 have passed bans on video gambling since 2009, Recklaus said. Along with Clarendon Hills, the communities that haven’t adopted bans are Bartlett, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Lombard, Oakbrook Terrace, Winfield and Willowbrook.
“Of our other immediate neighbors, both Hinsdale and Westmont have banned video gambling, but Westmont is currently discussing lifting the ban,” Recklaus said.