Following protest from local bar owners the Farmington City Council Monday night voted against increasing the number of allowed gaming machines.
The proposed ordinance would have increased the number of Class G licenses from three to six; this would have allowed three additional packaged liquor stores to install up to five gaming machines each.
Those under Class G are allowed to serve beer and wine but not hard liquor. Bars, on the other hand, ARE allowed to serve hard liquor.
Currently, there are seven establishments in Farmington that have gaming machines; four are bars, which do not fall under Class G, and three are packaged goods.
The number of gaming machines in Farmington is 31.
It was noted during the meeting that those interested in installing gaming machines were County Market and two individuals interested in opening a packaged liquor store.
Jim Crane, board member of the Moose Lodge, expressed his belief that allowing additional gaming machines would not generate more revenue and would hurt already established businesses.
“You’re at the saturation point,” said Crane. “It hasn’t done anything to help your bottom line except take away from current establishments.”
Crane provided data from the last six years showing that money earned from the gaming machines has decreased when the City allowed increasing gaming licenses.
Marshall Threw, owner of Whiskey Dixie’s, noted that he had considered opening a gambling gaming machine business in Canton but the Canton City Council rejected the idea as they did not want to dilute the market.
“It’s the same people that go around the machines,” Threw explained of Farmington. “It’s the same disposable income.”
“You’ve got a pie, you can only slice it so many ways,” said Bub Malott of Benny’s Corner Bar & Grill, noting that bars make the majority of their money from gaming machines.
Malott added that gaming machines can cost an upwards of $40,000 each, and it would take new owners a long time to see a return on their investment.
“The Farmington pie is gonna get chopped up,” said Crane.
“We’ve learned from our business owners about what they want and I’m with them,” commented Ward 1 Alderman Joey Boggs.
Aldermen unanimously voted against the measure.