Video gaming heads to Huntley
Huntley calls itself “The friendly village with country charm.”
The village will soon get a dose of big-city excitement, in the form of video gaming. It doesn’t appear that it will come to Sun City, however.
The village board recently approved, by a 5-1 vote, an ordinance permitting “liquor-by-the-drink” establishments to install video gaming terminals in their premises. There are 10 such businesses in the community that are eligible for video gaming. This is based on their liquor license that allows them to sell liquor-by-the-drink for consumption by patrons on their premises.
Two of these establishments are located in Sun City. They are Jameson’s Huntley Inc., operators of Jameson’s Restaurant and Pub in Prairie Lodge, and Whisper Creek Golf LLC, doing business as Whisper Creek Golf Club.
Huntley is an “opt in” village, meaning village officials have decided to participate in video gaming by permitting the activity to take place in selected businesses. The state now is preparing for the implementation phase, when establishments may purchase terminals from an approved list of manufacturers and distributors and install them on their premises. This phase is scheduled to begin later this year.
A spokesperson for Jameson’s told the Sun Day last week that they have no plans to participate in video gaming.
“We don’t want to have gambling activities in our restaurant or pub,” she said.
A spokesman for Whisper Creek Golf Club said he is not aware of any plans to install the devices in their facilities. The manager of Bowl-Hi Lanes at the corner of Algonquin Road and Route 47 said, however, that he plans to install them as soon as state authorities give the green light.
Other video gaming-eligible businesses in Huntley are Huntley Legion Home Inc., Luigi’s Pizzeria, Offie’s Tap, Parkside Pub, Sammy’s Restaurant & Lounge, Soula’s Village Inn, and The Pines of Huntley.
Village trustees approving participation in video gaming were Pam Fender, Nick Hanson, Niko Kanakaris, Ron Hahn, and John Piwko. Voting no was Harry Leopold, the only trustee living in Sun City.
“We have been told that the state intends to fund road and bridge improvement projects with taxes on this video gaming,” said Fender. “So it will pay for the widening of Route 47 in our village, which has been so important to our community. To say no now to video gaming is wrong. We have to pay the piper. If the village can get some money from gambling activities, we should take it. Tentative estimates of our share are around $100,000 annually. Many of our businesses have been hanging on by a thread in this tough economy, and some were affected by the Route 47 widening work. Maybe this activity will help them survive and thrive. If this activity harms us down the road, we can always take it back.”
Leopold said his opposition is based primarily on the concerns and opposition of residents, especially in Sun City.
“First, we should not cloak ‘gambling’ with the softer word ‘gaming,’” he said. “Since one pays money to win money, it simply is gambling.
“The day after we discussed this in our committee of the whole meeting, I was able to poll 22 golfers, 18 of whom were against gambling in Huntley. That afternoon, 81 of 88 bridge players also were against gambling in Huntley. Two more polls since were about the same. As a village trustee, I strive to learn the concerns of our residents and act in their best interests. In this case, it is my conclusion that allowing video gambling in Huntley is not in their best interests. I recognize the need to be concerned about our local business people and help them where we can. But in this case, the special needs of a small minority of businesses with liquor licenses are outweighed by the interests of the general residency. I recently learned about a book, ‘Gambling in America’ by Earl Grinols. Some of the promotional information about it states that gambling seldom, if ever, improves the quality of life in a community, and it corrupts politicians and draws unsavory life-types.”
The Sun Day contacted a few Sun City residents, none of whom favored video gaming.
“My wife and I go to a casino occasionally and bet a modest amount of money to have some fun, and then we quit, regardless of whether we’ve won or lost,” said Al La Pelusa. “When I’m there, I look around, and I see a lot of people there who probably are hoping to make a big killing. But they probably shouldn’t be gambling, because they really can’t afford it. I’m not complaining about video gambling, but I just don’t see it working for a lot of people.”
“I have no interest in it,” said resident Denis Bowron. “As a frequent traveler, I sometimes see people gambling, but it never has persuaded me to get involved in it.”
When the board voted on this last week, Leopold asked that the issue be tabled until a public hearing could be held to determine more information about residents’ wishes.