Mount Prospect, a small town north of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, has business owners who want to change an existing ordinance to allow video gaming in their businesses. They claim that they are losing business to other townships in the area, and Mount Prospect is losing valuable tax revenue. However, business leaders are facing pushback from the town’s trustees, who say that not enough people have come forward to say they are in favor of the change to the ordinance.
Mount Prospect, Ill., has a population of about 55,000 residents. The town has a per capita income of around $27,000, which classifies it as lower middle class, with about 5 percent of the population living in poverty. Major employers in the city include manufacturing companies, insurance companies, and medical businesses. The village boasts an active population, with lots of parks in the area and award-winning schools. Many people see Mount Prospect as a good place to live with a cheaper cost of living than other suburbs of Chicago.
The Arguments for Video Gaming
Businesses that want video gaming are those that are allowed to serve alcohol, especially bars and restaurants. Business owners with liquor licenses have argued that allowing video gaming machines would help them gain customers they have lost to surrounding towns, such as Elk Grove Village, Prospect Heights, and Hoffman Estates. While the machines were outlawed in 2012 in the town, business owners argue Mount Prospect is losing out on tax revenue that could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly, which the town could use for all kinds of infrastructure projects.
There was a survey conducted to gauge the public’s reception toward video gaming machines. However, trustees for the town said that not enough people were part of the survey to really indicate how everyone in the town felt as a whole. The survey, which the trustees called unscientific, recorded 98 responses, with 63 percent of the respondents in favor of the proposed ordinance change and 37 percent opposed to it.
Some of the trustees have stated that they may ask for a referendum about video gaming to be on the ballot in November so that the town’s citizens could voice their feelings about the issue.
Many people who lived in the town are opposed to video gaming machines for two reasons. First, the townspeople have argued that video game machines take money out of the pockets of people who need it most, those who consider themselves the working poor. In addition, townspeople have stated that if Mount Prospect’s citizens want additional revenue for the town, they could spend money in its businesses, which would mean additional sales tax revenue for public projects.
It remains to be seen whether the township will decide to put video gaming machines back into those businesses that have liquor licenses. However, what is certain is that the area is surrounded by opportunities to gamble, with the proximity of video gaming machines in the surrounding townships, as well as lottery tickets, bingo halls, and casinos a short distance away. In order to benefit from the gaming enterprise, the township may need to call for a referendum. The town also has other gaming options available to it, which may soon include sports gaming. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that states could decide for themselves whether to allow sports gaming. As the town leaders consider their options, they may want to think about gaming solutions, as well as other solutions to aid the town in its quest for higher revenue to benefit its citizens.
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