East Dundee denies video gambling at gas station

A business owner's request to add video gambling machines to his downtown East Dundee gas station was shot down this week in a split decision by the village board.

Some trustees argued that granting a video gambling license to AmStar at 305 E. Main St. would generate extra revenue and allow the gas station to remain competitive among others in the area. But Village President Lael Miller said fulfilling Amstar's request would set a precedent for all gas stations - and even other types of businesses - in the village.

"I always want to look and say, 'Who else will this impact in town? What haven't we thought of?' " Miller said. "I don't think we want to allow every single person who comes to town to have video gaming. I understand it seems like easy money for people, but at some point, I think we need to control this."

Miller sided with three trustees who opposed the proposal during the discussion, effectively killing the measure.

In his request to the village, owner Jay Pastakia said offering video gambling on site would allow him to remain on par with gas stations in neighboring towns. He's already trying to stay competitive by updating his property, which he purchased and renovated nearly 20 years ago, and switching from AmStar to BP in the next several months, he said.

State law permits video gambling machines in establishments that sit on at least four acres of property and can be considered truck stops, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said. The AmStar gas station doesn't qualify.

In turn, AmStar could only obtain a video gambling license if it were also granted a liquor license allowing for the consumption of alcohol on the property, according to state statute. While that makes sense for various bars and restaurants in town, Miller said, the village has tried to be restrictive in determining which types of establishments are granted those privileges.

Trustee Scott Andresen said fulfilling Pastakia's request wouldn't negatively change the nature of the property, but it might help the longtime owner stay afloat amid a changing business environment. "We do evaluate each (license) on its own merits," he said. "Based on a case-by-case analysis, this one would get my vote."

Trustee Dan Selep said adding more machines could also financially benefit the village. East Dundee has 14 active video gambling licenses, which put more than $160,000 in the village's coffers in 2017.

Trustees Kirstin Wood and Kathleen Mahony, however, said giving AmStar a video gambling license without offering the same benefits to other gas stations wouldn't be fair.

"Once we do it, we set a precedent, and that can't apply," Wood said. "You're either going to follow the current guidelines, or you're going to change them."

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