Gambling and youth sports don’t seem like an obvious match, but Crestwood, Ill., has found a way to for one to help the other.
Beginning next year, the village will use its share of the revenue derived from video gaming machines to help offset the registration fee for residents who want their kids to play sports offered by the village such as football, baseball and soccer, The Chicago Tribune reported.
The registration fees range from $25 to $175 depending on the sport and the fees will only be waived to residents of the village. Members of neighboring communities also play in the Crestwood program but would not be eligible for the the waivers. According to The Tribune, about 350 children in Crestwood are playing in the sports programs and have paid total fees of more than $29,000. The waiver only includes registration and does not include other costs such as uniforms.
The village is expected to make $150,000 in video gambling revenue this year, Mayor Lou Presta said, with half being used for recreational programs, including improvements to parks and the recreation center. The other half will be used for the village to fulfill is obligations to the police pension fund.
The hope is that waiving the fee will help increase participation levels. The village says of the 150 kids involved in the football and cheerleading programs, only 25 live in Crestwood.
“Since I was elected mayor I wanted to do this,” Presta told The Tribune about the sports registration reimbursements. “Now that the legal fees are going away, we can do it.” Those legal fees are tied to a $15 million settlement of lawsuits from the village using tainted well water for a 22-year period, The Tribune said.