Aldermen Approve OTB for Yorkville's West Side

Ultimate Sports Bar just needs approval from the Illinois Racing Board to open the OTB this month.

Aldermen approved two measures needed to add an off-track betting parlor to , despite one alderman reading from articles against gambling for about 20 minutes at Tuesday's Yorkville City Council meeting.

The OTB is scheduled to if the Illinois Racing Board signs off on after a hearing on Dec. 21.

The aldermen approved the necessary zoning change and special-use permit by a 6-1 margin. Alderman George Gilson Jr. (Ward 1) cast the lone "no" vote, while Alderman Wally Werderich (Ward 1) was absent.

Mayor Valerie Burd heralded the OTB as a "big economic draw."

The OTB could generate about $6.4 million in annual wagers in 2011, providing nearly $64,000 to the city and $64,000 to the county in tax revenue, according to Chief Financial Officer Jeff Kras from Stickney-based Hawthorne Race Course. It's projected that by 2015, the OTB would generate nearly $110,000 annually for the city.

Gilson explained his vote to the city council partially by reading sections of news articles and academic studies that challenged whether legalized gambling offered sustained economic growth. Gilson also said some of his constituents supported the proposal but most did not.

"I'm concerned about what kind of business that is going to attract to that area," Gilson said.

He also asserted that other types of businesses— such as strip clubs and adult book stores—generated revenue for local government without enhancing the community.

"If the main driver for this is revenue, where does that line of thinking end?" Gilson asked.

Alderman Robyn Sutcliff (Ward 3) asserted that Gilson had "cherry-picked" articles that supported his opinion. Sutcliff said she appreciates Hawthorne Race Course taking a business risk on Yorkville.

"Of the one license Hawthorne has left, they think Yorkville is the place for it," Sutcliff said. "I think we're going to be great partners."

Alderman Rose Ann Spears (Ward 4) said she had visited the OTB at the Turf Room in North Aurora.

"I was fearful there would be a lot of derelicts in and out of there," Spears said, adding that there were not.

Alderman Marty Munns (Ward 3) said Ultimate Sports Bar should be treated like any other business looking to expand.

"It doesn't matter if it's a donut shop or an OTB," Munns said.

ROY BECKER December 17, 2010 at 07:03 PM
ROY BECKER December 17, 2010 at 07:05 PM
James Baron March 05, 2011 at 06:06 PM
I think it is a very good idea. I use to go to Joliet to watch the races, now in my town, that is awesome.


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