CAMPTON HILLS – Restaurant owners in Campton Hills are imploring village officials to lift the ban on video gambling so they can compete on a level playing field with establishments in communities where video gambling is allowed.
"We need to have fair play," Old Towne Pub and Eatery general manager Kim Weiss said, in addressing officials at the Jan. 2 Campton Hills Village Board meeting. "And I know that it will help the community financially. It will bring people in and I think it will also keep people that live here from going elsewhere."
The village banned video gambling in December 2009. In 2012, a majority of residents voting in an advisory referendum rejected lifting the village's ban on video gambling. Results showed that 69.85 percent of those who voted were against the idea, while 25.33 percent were in favor.
Campton Hills is one of three municipalities in Kane County where video gambling is illegal. Video gaming also is not allowed in the city of Geneva and the village of Kaneville.
Village trustees did not take action at the meeting as the topic was for discussion only. Also speaking in favor of video gambling was Mark Bezik, part owner of Niko's Tavern in Campton Hills.
"First hand, I've seen how video gaming can help small businesses," he said.
Niko's also operates restaurants in several other communities where video gambling is allowed, such as Woodstock and Pingree Grove. Bezik said the additional revenues created by video gambling has been a help in maintaining their buildings.
"Video gaming is a revenue source that helps us to keep up with these buildings," Bezik said. "As you can see by those pictures, it would have been almost nearly impossible to be able to do that without the extra revenue source from the video gaming."
Bezik also noted the village would receive additional revenues if video gambling was allowed. He said Campton Hills should expect $34,000 in annual revenue from video gambling.
Ron D'Aversa, president of Central Development Corporation, which developed Campton Square shopping center, told officials that video gambling is a way of "stimulating economic development."
"One thing that you can be sure of in the retail-office complex business is that things will change," he said. "We have to keep presenting new and different opportunities for the business community because nothing stays forever."
Village Trustee Mike Tyrrell said the board needs to look at how the voting public of Campton Hills feels about video gambling.
"There was a referendum a few years back where the voting public, the residents of this community, by a mandate said they were not in favor of video gambling," he said. "If the sentiments have changed, that's how we get that input, through referendum. More work needs to be done as we go forward. As a business owner, you wouldn't put something on your menu that the public doesn't like. You are answerable to your customers. We as a board are answerable to the citizens."
Trustee Nick Girka noted that no one spoke at the meeting against video gambling.
"So the 70 percent who voted against [video gambling] chose not to show up tonight?" he asked. "I struggle with putting this on the back burner any longer. If we're going to put this on another agenda coming up, I would encourage the opposition to show up in the same numbers, so we can hear their side. Waiting for another referendum is not fair. That's real time. I don't see any reason why this board should drag its feet. The opposition, they could have been here as well."