Utica could get four to six new video gaming terminals, increasing the village total to 50 or more.
Thursday, the Utica Planning Commission unanimously recommended a special use be granted to Dale Senica to operate a bar with video gaming. His bar, Alley Cat’s, would be in the rear of 142 Mill St. — between Mill Street Market and Canal Port — accessible through the alley.
“I just want to bring back a neighborhood bar where a guy can come through the back alley and have a beer,” Senica said, adding later, “It’s going to look great when I get done.”
Thursday’s vote was only a recommendation; Senica needs the approval of the Utica Village Board, which meets Thursday, July 14. If approved, gaming terminals in Utica would climb by 10%.
The Illinois Department of Revenue reported Utica had 10 establishments with 46 gaming terminals, as of May 2022. Last year, the village collected a revenue share of more than $70,000.
Separately, the Planning Commission continues to tweak the sign ordinance and advanced two proposals.
One is intended to limit flashing or illuminated signs. The commission proposes that any sign with a “changing message” — an LED sign, for example — requires a special use before it can be raised anywhere in the village.
The commission also modified the rules governing murals or wall signs. The ordinance now governs any wall facing a public street or alley.
Video gaming income for Washington County businesses, municipalities, and state recovered in 2021 to above pre-Pandemic levels, according to the Illinois Gaming Board annual report. Income was up sharply in 2021 from 2020, when it was shut down about five months.
The share of income for the Village of Okawville increased from $26,762 in 2020 to $55,127 in 2021. That surpassed the $47,603 in 2019.
Mayor Dave Jasper said that the money will likely be used to replace one of the police cars that has high mileage. Another use will be replacing a sign in front of the Village Hall with a message center.
The Salem City Council on a 3-2 vote has approved a Class A liquor license for the former Pizza Hut building on West Main and Kinney Boulevard.
The action clears the way for the owners and operators of El Rancherito Mexican Restaurant, Rose and Luis Roma, to proceed with trying to lease the building for a high end package liquor facility that would allow video gaming.
Mayor Nic Farley cast the deciding vote in favor of the license.
“As a local business that invest in the community and I wanna be as pro business as I can so I thought if the community wants that they will support it and if they don’t, then they won’t.”
Councilman Jim Koehler made the motion and Craig Morton provided the second as well as the other two favorable votes. Koehler, who had opposed more video gaming in the past, said the local ownership makes a difference and he didn’t want to block a project. He also had fears the building would deteriorate if it sat vacant.
Council persons Amy Troutt and Royce Bringwald cast the two no votes, saying they struggled with justification for more video gaming.
Rose Roma told the city council she understands their concerns.
“I understand you don’t want Salem to turn into a gambling place, but it’s just a thought of a nicer liquor spot. Go pick up a drink, take it home or stay and play a few games. Obviously not a place you want people to just go and get wasted.”
Roma said she did not have a timetable for when the new business could open.
MARYVILLE — Imagine hitting the slots while sipping a cold, frosty adult beverage or trying your luck at a one-arm bandit during a visit to your favorite Maryville establishment. Those possibilities may soon become realities.
Mayor Craig Short said Wednesday the village board of trustees called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 30 to vote on video gaming before the Independence Day holiday weekend.
Short and the trustees also discussed the issue during a caucus meeting on June 9. Remember that caucus meetings, on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, are where discussions take place, but no voting happens. The ordinance would repeal the prohibition chapter of video gaming first then adopt a new chapter approving the activity.
There are several places in the village that are currently not applicable, such as a licensed fraternal or veterans’ establishment and truck stops.
Where video gaming occurs will be driven by liquor licenses. Lyle’s Tavern, Bella Vista, Boogie’s, Mariachi’s Mexican Restaurant and now, Plan, Shop, Live Kitchen, all have liquor licenses.
The new act will only apply to bars (Class A); social clubs (Class B); and restaurants (Class D). These license holders must have been in operation and good standing with the village for at least 12 months. At present, the village has two Class A license holders, no Class B license holders and now, three Class D license holders, Short said.
He added that the village’s code on this is less restrictive than O’Fallon’s. That town makes businesses of good standing with liquor licenses wait 24 months before applying for a video gaming license.
WHAT WE KNOW: Two weeks ago, Geneseo’s committee of the whole voted 5-4 to recommend ordinances for video gaming be forwarded to the March 9 meeting with the city’s law firm reviewing signage regulations and the percentage of business sales that must be devoted to food and beverage.
WHAT’S NEW: On Tuesday, Mayor Sean Johnson again cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of permitting video gaming in the city of Geneseo. Aldermen voting in support of video gaming were Paula Simosky, Craig Arnold, Martin Rothschild and Brett Barnhart. Aldermen voting no were Keith Kennett, Doug Crow, Robert Wachtel and Bob James. Nine people spoke against video gaming citing concerns over addiction, mental health issues, financial ruin and the cost to society of individual gambling excesses, losing a special family atmosphere and this form of gaming offering a relatively low revenue stream.
Twelve emails, all opposed to video gaming, were read. Pastor Steve Palm presented a petition signed by 233 people as well as a letter from the Geneseo Ministerial Association.
Five people spoke in favor of the issue, including Bill Smith of Beck Oil and businessmen Mike Bellovics and Chris Leamen. Casting his vote, Johnson said the past two weeks had been difficult for him, and morality as a topic has been a difficult one for ages. He said the aldermen who supported gaming would protect the things that made Geneseo special along the way.
By joining the Support Main Street Illinois Coalition, you will be supporting local and statewide efforts toward reshaping how policymakers, media and consumers view the contributions that gaming makes to both the state and your local economy!