The local Save-A-Lot store on Broadway Avenue is looking to add up to five gambling machines in its liquor store.
The business is looking to make a profit, but for some frequent shoppers, they worry it will draw unwanted attention.
“We’ve had a problem with people hanging out here to begin with,” said Janet Merritte, an Urbana resident. “I don’t think it’s a good idea at all.”
The city voted 4 -2 in approving a “Class A” liquor license for the store. This license allows consumption of liquor inside the business and gambling machines.
“This is the first of that nature that we have had in Urbana, which is why there was some discussion last night,” said Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin.
Next, the company will go to the state for another license, “and then they will come back to the city to apply for a video gaming license,” Mayor Marlin said.
In the past, the city has turned down two requests for video gaming licenses because of nearby neighborhood concerns.
But to City Council member Eric Jakobsson, this time felt different.
“I realized that without the revenue stream, we would see a substantial movement of all of these establishments away from Urbana,” he said.
He said since the liquor store is detached from the grocery side, it made more sense to him.
“If we had set a precedent for people to just go grocery shopping and see gambling machines exactly in the same space, probably my vote would’ve gone the other way,” Jakobsson said.
In the meantime, the city is taking a closer look at its liquor code, especially at the video gaming section.
The mayor said it hasn’t been revised in years. She hopes to have revisions by this summer.
“There are now uses [for video gaming] that weren’t anticipated even by the state. So, we are going to be taking a close look at those,” Mayor Marlin said.