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The Vandalia City Council will wait to decide on what to do about gaming liquor licenses until it receives information from the state and other towns on how they handle certain situations. That was a decision reached on Monday afternoon, March 8, in a special work session.
The meeting was called as a result of two applications for gaming parlors within the city, however liquor licenses dealing with those types of businesses, Class “J” licenses, were filled to the limit previously set by the council.
Two of those licenses are held by Discount Tobacco and Discount Tobacco Express, both of which some alderman believed should be reclassified to a Class H license.
Russ Stunkel told those gathered that he was at one of the tobacco shops for two hours and they had nearly 30-32 people come through the drive-up during that time. He also mentioned that to access the gaming machines at those businesses, patrons must walk through the retail portion to gamble.
“If ‘J’ is a stand alone gaming parlor, these two don’t belong in that category,” he said.
Another matter brought up at the meeting was the question for the necessity of a Class H license, which is held by Willy’s.
Dorothy Crawford explained that the owner of Willey’s had requested a license for only beer and wine, making it clear that they did not sell hard liquor at the business.
City Attorney Ryan Conner told the council members that they could change the licenses for both Discount Tobacco stores, but only with their agreement. Later in the meeting he elaborated that, in his opinion, members would have to either create a new license, or create two new ones in Class H, open those newly created licenses, reclassify or move the Discount Tobacco licenses to the new classification; close the two “J” licenses currently held by those businesses, increase the number of the “J” licenses, open those, then assign them.
During the meeting, Alderman Andy Lester said that the wording in the “J” classification needed to be change to state those businesses must have a separate entrance to the gaming parlors, in which case, if the tobacco stores are left there, they would have to be grandfathered in. He added that Classes “A” and “H” could, in fact, be combined into one classification.
After more discussion, and questions on how other towns handle tobacco shops and gaming rooms, the council decided to not make a decision until that information has been obtained.
Steve Barker, who led most of the discussion, told the counsil that in the event that the two licenses are opened in Class “J”, that Lester Kretzer, who had been present at all of the meeting concerned, deserves due consideration for one.
Kretzer, present at the meeting, told the council that the State of Illinois considers gaming “parlor” bars, and that the term “parlor” is a new term associated with stand alone gaming businesses.
Mark Meadows, who is also a joint applicant for a license, read a list of various towns and the number of gaming machines in each.
Other scenarios of possible businesses and different licenses was also discussed.
It was mentioned there is not enough time to gather the information and present a solution by the time of the Monday night’s council meeting.