Visitors to Rosemont may soon be able to place their bets, as the village explores a partnership with sportsbook operators and considers overturning its long-standing ban on video gambling, Mayor Brad Stephens said Wednesday.
And on another statewide issue raised Wednesday during his annual State of the Village address, Stephens indicated the village board likely will vote next month to prohibit sales of recreational marijuana in town.
Stephens made the comments during a noontime chamber luncheon at The Estate by Gene & Georgetti on Higgins Road.
Part of the gambling bill approved by lawmakers this year and signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker includes a provision allowing up to seven sports facilities statewide with a capacity of at least 17,000 to get sports betting licenses. Stephens believes the village-owned Allstate Arena, the home of the Chicago Wolves with a capacity of 18,500, is eligible.
As such, Stephens said the village has formed an internal committee to collect and vet proposals from operators interested in running a potential sports wagering facility in Rosemont.
If it comes to fruition, the sportsbook would likely be outside -- not inside -- the Allstate Arena, Stephens said, since the legislation allows betting parlors within a five-block radius of sports venues.
"The village is not interested in using the license," Stephens said. "We're just interested in getting the revenue from it."
What could be just as lucrative for village coffers is allowing video gambling terminals at venues within the Parkway Bank Park entertainment district and hotel bars.
Stephens said he's heard from some of the existing 50 liquor license holders in town who are interested in adding the machines to help their bottom lines. For Rosemont, that could mean $1 million in extra revenues a year, by one estimate.
Under state rules, 5% of net revenues from gambling machines go to municipalities and 25% to the state, with terminal operators and licensed establishments splitting the remainder.
Rosemont was among the first towns to ban the machines after they became legal a decade ago, but now has joined a growing number of Northwest suburbs taking another look. Schaumburg and Des Plaines officials have had discussions in recent weeks about overturning their bans, while Palatine decided to keep its in place. Rolling Meadows and Mount Prospect approved video gambling within their borders last year.
"We're looking at video poker right now only because there really have been no significant problems. There are huge amounts of revenue that are involved in it," Stephens said. "With our large group of folks that come through our community on a daily basis, we think there could be a really interesting story here to take a look at that."
As for recreational marijuana sales, Stephens said he polled village board members and they are leaning toward opting out. It would be hard to find an ideal space within the village for a dispensary to locate, he added.
A formal opt-out ordinance could come next month.
Besides serving as mayor, Stephens was appointed by Republican committeemen to the state representative seat vacated by Michael McAuliffe in June, right after a package of landmark legislation was approved in Springfield. Stephens announced Wednesday that he plans to seek election the 20th District seat in 2020.