OTB wants to move to Buffalo Grove Golf Club
Updated: March 11, 2012 8:08AM
If Buffalo Grove’s leaders and a local racecourse get all their ducks in a row — or horses, rather — an off-track betting site could come to property owned by Village Hall.
Trustees held their first discussion Monday night about allowing the Hawthorne Race Course OTB, currently at 301 N. Milwaukee Ave., to move to the clubhouse of the village-owned Buffalo Grove Golf Club, 48 Raupp Blvd. Should the move eventually gain approval, it would likely increase tax revenue for Village Hall, as well as bring in a new lease.
The Village Board is aware of the perceptions, and complications, such a partnership could bring.
“Is it all right to have a gambling operation on government property?” Trustee Beverly Sussman asked Village Attorney Bill Raysa on Monday.
“My answer right now is, I believe so,” Raysa responded.
“Is the village at any greater risk having gambling on our property than we already are having alcohol on our property?” Trustee Mike Terson followed.
“I think alcohol is a bigger risk,” Raysa responded.
Trustees on Monday sent the proposal to the village Plan Commission for review, with Sussman casting the sole dissenting vote.
Hawthorne began its life as Buffalo Grove OTB as a partnership with a restaurant called Adam’s Roadhouse. That restaurant closed last summer when the company operating it went bankrupt. Since then, Hawthorne has operated the OTB directly and set up a limited food service. Hawthorne has sought numerous facilities, both within and outside Buffalo Grove, to relocate.
The first option it is pursuing is Village Tavern, already the site of food, alcohol and banquet services. In the proposal discussed Monday, Hawthorne would move into the south banquet room, occupying between a quarter and a third of the Tavern’s square footage for serving.
The relocation would require adjustments to Hawthorn’s special use permit, and would likely lead to new negotiations with current food-service vendor Taproom Hospitality, Village Manager Dane Bragg said.
“There are a lot of moving parts to the process,” he said. “Hawthorne has to make some substantial movement here, within a short amount of time.”
Jeff Krais, Hawthorne chief financial officer, said his group operates numerous OTBs, but that this would be its first on a publicly owned site. He said the company is considering other venues in neighboring communities, as well, and want to get its operation into one of them quickly.
But he noted the desirability of the golf course’s demographics: The club averages 500 groups of four during the summer.
“We would expose our product to the golfers,” Krais said. “The facility is very conducive. I think we’ve been a good partner with Buffalo Grove. I think there’s no issue with how we’ve conducted ourselves here.”
Police Chief Steve Balinski agreed. He said that, since September of 2009, his department had received 46 calls for service from the OTB, but that 33 of them were for security alarms, customers locked out of their cars, parking complaints or other public-service matters. The gambling site had one reported battery, one car burglary and one theft, he said.
“There is no significant public safety concern,” Balinski said.
The board discussed insurance and parking concerns as well on Monday. Krais said Hawthorne would have valet and security present, particularly during the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup events. Trustee Jeff Berman told Krais to expect the OTB to play second fiddle to the Village Tavern’s original customer base.
“I believe it should remain, first and foremost, for golf patrons,” he said.