East Dundee denies request for new liquor license, video gambling at gas station
An East Dundee gas station owner's plea to install video gambling machines has been rejected by village trustees, a majority of whom said they don't want to set a precedent for similar businesses.
Due to the size of its property, the Exxon gas station at River Street and Route 72 does not qualify as a truck stop, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen says. That distinction is important, she said, because state law allows video gambling only in truck stops, not gas stations.
The only way around that restriction would be to grant Exxon a "tavern" liquor license that permits the on-site consumption of alcohol -- similar to a gaming parlor like Dolly's Cafe, officials said.
Exxon's business has been hurting in recent years as other Dundee-area gas stations have been constructed or expanded nearby, said Jay Pastakia, who has owned the downtown property since 1999.
Adding video gambling terminals would allow Exxon to remain competitive, he said, particularly among two nearby truck stops that offer the gaming machines.
Trustees Scott Andresen and Dan Selep supported Pastakia's request, saying they take no issue with offering Exxon the same advantages available to competing businesses.
"Jay has been a great asset to this village," Selep said. "It'd be a shame to lose that revenue and the opportunity to get more revenue."
But other trustees said they're not comfortable granting a liquor license as a way to ultimately allow video gambling at a site where it was not intended. Permitting such a loophole now, they say, could be a slippery slope down the road.
"I just think this is a bad idea from a perception standpoint. I think it's a bad idea from a precedent standpoint, and I don't think the gaming business was introduced into the state of Illinois to be implemented in this type of situation," Trustee Kirstin Wood said.
Pastakia made an identical request for a liquor license and subsequent video gambling permit two years ago, at which point his proposal was shot down in a 4-3 vote by the village board.
Trustees did not take a formal vote while reconsidering the request this week, but they indicated they were not interested in moving the measure forward.
Village President Lael Miller said he would like the village to work with Pastakia and "see if there are other opportunities where we could help make the business more successful."