Chicago may soon feature “Gambling Malls”

The fact that a Chicago-area developer is looking to open a couple strip malls is nothing new. But the type of malls he wants to open will offer video gambling, which is indeed a new concept.

The plan is for a “gambling mall” to be opened in both the Chicago suburbs of Crestwood and Hometown. Multiple storefronts would be leased to different operators, with each storefront offering up to five video gambling machines. The hope is that having various gambling cafes in one location will generate more foot traffic and overall revenue.

Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta and Hometown Mayor Kevin Casey are both intrigued by the idea, but they were cautious in noting that the Illinois Gaming Board will have the final say on whether these games are in compliance with state laws. In Presta’s opinion, the gambling mall would be a great way to create additional revenue that his town struggles to find from other sources. Here’s a look at what he told the Chicago Tribune:

“They have already told me they want liquor licenses for each of them because you need that before you can get a gaming license, and I told them they would get their liquor licenses. We got them OKd. There’s a bingo hall at the end of the plaza and that would stay. So it would be a nice little area with an OTB parlor, the bingo hall and these gambling cafes in a plaza that is really set so far back from the road, behind another shopping area, that it is difficult for tenants to attract customers.

“I figure it would generate a couple of hundred thousand dollars in new revenue, and we could use it to fund the parks and police pensions. You know, this new governor we got is going to cut state funding, and we’re not going to be getting any money to run our parks from the state, so we have to find new revenues.”

The developer in question is David Miltenberger, who runs a company called Lucky Duck Entertainment. The one red flag about Miltenberger is that he had to file bankruptcy last year on liabilities of $7.1 million – mostly stemming from a gas station company he ran with relatives in the St. Louis area. So even if the state of Illinois approves the gambling malls, Miltenberger may still have trouble coming up with the financing.

But if he can get the necessary funds and launch the gambling malls, this novel concept may spread to other cities if it’s successful.

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