St. Charles loosens video gambling rules for businesses
The city of St. Charles will no longer require businesses to wait a year to apply for a video gambling license.
At Monday's meeting, the St. Charles City Council voted 7-3 to drop the one-year waiting period. Voting "no" were the 2nd Ward's Rita Payleitner, the 4th Ward's Bryan Wirball and the 1st Ward's Ron Silkaitis.
The state legalized video gambling in 2009, and the St. Charles council in 2015 narrowly voted to allow it. There currently are 107 gambling terminals inside 20 establishments in the city, St. Charles Police Chief James Keegan told the council.
Before the change, the city's ordinance stipulated that businesses must operate for one year before obtaining a video gambling license from the city. The issue had been discussed during the city council winter workshop earlier this year.
"At the retreat, staff was directed to enhance opportunities for gaming operators and operations within St. Charles with some very narrow guidelines," Keegan said.
Video gambling is allowed as an ancillary use only.
Should city officials suspect somebody is operating a video gambling cafe, St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek -- who is the city's liquor control commissioner -- can require a license holder to provide financial, tax and operational records to the city.
While Payleitner said she was confident Keegan would help ensure that "everybody stays above board," she voiced concerns about video gambling.
"I still see a great determent in video gaming," she said. "For sure, I don't support expanding it."
She is concerned that more people have been experiencing gambling problems since the introduction of video gambling.
"It's just the addictive nature of it," Payleitner said.
Third Ward Alderman Paul Lencioni endorsed the changes.
"I applaud you for finding a way to get through this," he said in addressing Keegan.
Fifth Ward Alderman Steve Weber also supported the changes.
"I think it's important for everyone to realize that these business owners, most of them are local and live local," Weber said. "They're investing in our city, investing lots of money in our city to make it better. I think it's OK for the city to help the businesses and provide them some flexibility within the ordinance."
Flagship on the Fox opened in downtown St. Charles in June 2019 and has had video gambling since last December. Owner Steve Mayer said his restaurant hasn't seen any problems since video gaming started.
"It doesn't bring in a bad clientele and, ideally, it helps out the small-business owner, it helps out the municipality, and it helps out the state," Mayer said.
Christina Barrutia, owner and manager of The Hive Tavern and Eatery in downtown St. Charles, said the new rules will help her business compete with other businesses that already have video gambling.