CRYSTAL LAKE – A group of Crystal Lake bar and restaurant owners are rolling the dice on convincing City Council members to allow video gambling in the city.
After being denied in the past, restaurant owners are hoping the examples of video gambling in Algonquin, Cary and other local municipalities will show council members the benefit of allowing the machines in city limits.
Paul Leech, owner of The Cottage, formally approached officials asking for an October public hearing to discuss the issue and give restaurant owners a chance to present their case. He was supported with a petition by owners from Brink Street Bar and Grill, Fire Bar and Grill, Williams Street Public House, Coleman’s, Duke’s Alehouse & Kitchen and more.
Leech said restaurant owners were not equipped with the research, numbers and examples in previous pleas for video gaming that they now have to support their argument.
“The whole contention is that it will have a negative influence, when in reality it hasn’t had that,” Leech said, citing examples in Algonquin and Lake in the Hills.
“It’s brought income to the city and businesses,” he said.
In his brief presentation, Leech said numbers show the primary demographic among video gambling players is working, middle-aged men and women with families who play a few times a month.
Owners who support the initiative have said the money could be used to update and repair their facilities.
Getting a public forum on the subject could be difficult for Leech and other supporters. Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley said no City Council members directed staff to put the subject on a future agenda and no discussions between any members on the request have taken place.
Shepley and some council members have previously said it would be nearly impossible to sway their opinion on the matter.
Still, Leech said a public discussion could put the issue to rest once and for all if there was a groundswell of opposition to video gaming.
“If the general public in Crystal Lake don’t want it, that’s fine, I’ll live with it. But to be honest, I don’t think they care either way. “ Leech said. “If we have an open meeting, anyone who is vehemently against it would show up. I would listen and go with the majority, but we haven’t got to that point.”