Bars seek video gaming approval in Beach Park
By Tina Johansson For Sun-Times Media January 22, 2014 8:14PM
Video gaming will be up for discussion at the Beach Park Village Board meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 23. | File photo
Updated: February 24, 2014 1:06PM
Officials in Beach Park are mulling over the wishes of tavern owners who want to see video gaming reconsidered. The board is split on the idea.
In 2009, the village passed an ordinance banning video gaming and it has remained that way since.
On Thursday, Jan. 23, the issue will be up for discussion at the village board meeting at 7 p.m. and remarks from residents could be taken into account.
“There has been no public outcry or support of it. Other than the bar owners, no one has come to ask us to reconsider it or not,” said Jon Kindseth, village administrative services director.
Village staff has been working on the issue for the last several months, he said. “We’ve been watching other municipalities. We learned some lessons from Winthrop Harbor who immediately had some signage issues,” said Kindseth. “There are other things including licensing that we are looking into.”
Tavern owners first approached the village about the issue in December 2012. “They felt they had lost (business) to Waukegan and also Winthrop Harbor, both of whom allow video gambling,” Kindseth said.
According to officials, the village finance committee headed by trustee Donald Jensen recommended the move for video gaming. “The finance committee reviewed and went back to the board for action. We looked at the financial impact should the village decide to permit it. We found there would be no additional cost, or negligible costs and there is some income to be realized,” said Jensen, adding the amount is not a great deal. “From everything I’ve heard so far I don’t see any reason to oppose it.”
According to Kindseth, there are four taverns in town, including a new Mexican restaurant on Lewis Avenue and Wadsworth Road, and each one could have a maximum of five video gaming machines. Subsequently, the village could collect between $20,000 to $40,000 annually from video gaming.
Trustee Mark Ottersen is dead set against the idea. “My feelings haven’t changed since we passed the ordinance banning video gaming (in 2009),” he said.
“I see a lot of areas where it’s come in and they seem to target lower income areas, and I guess I have a higher vision for Beach Park. They (bar owners) continue to tell us that we have the perfect demographics for it, and that we’ll get a lot of business. I just personally don’t see it as a fix-all for Beach Park. I would rather see the businesses take advantage of the TIF districts that have been put in place than to make a little money off of gambling.”