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Gambling at golf course? Not in clubhouse, top official says

Published: Monday, April 7, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, April 7, 2014 10:12 a.m. CST

Some park districts have approved video gambling machines for their golf course bars. But don’t expect the Sterling Park District to follow suit.

The district’s executive director, Larry Schuldt, said he wouldn’t recommend allowing video gambling at Emerald Hill Golf Course.

“We serve alcohol at the golf course, but we don’t have a bar-type situation,” he said. “The alcohol we sell is for golfers. We rarely have people coming out just for drinks. I doubt the [park] board would be interested in video gaming. That promotes more of a bar setting, which we try not to do.”

Besides, he said, the bar is not open year-round.

“Even if the board did want video gaming, there wouldn’t be enough business,” he said.

No video gambling companies have approached the park district about having machines in its bar, Schuldt said.

Last week, the Joliet Park District’s board voted for a 5-year contract with Morris-based Donico LLC to manage video gambling machines at one of its golf courses and at two others, pending state approval of gambling applications, according to the Joliet-based Herald-Review, a sister newspaper to Sauk Valley Media.

“We’ve been talking for years about how to make the golf courses more profitable,” board President Glen Marcum said.

Stiff competition, he said, has made the courses marginally profitable at best.

The district would shut down the machines during high school golf meets.

Last month, the Hoffman Estates Park District voted for a “1-year trial” for video gambling. Two other suburban districts, Elk Grove and Foss, have machines up and running.

The only state requirements for machines are a liquor license and a clean background check.

Besides Sterling, no other area park districts have golf courses.

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