That was the message from city aldermen to Mayor Andy Ezard at last night’s city council meeting. Ezard had previously asked for direction from the council as he deals with requests for new business in the city.
Currently, Jacksonville has two video-gaming parlors, both on Morton Avenue: Lucy’s Place and Lucky’s.
Although existing bars, restaurants and truck stops can apply through the state gaming commission to get machines, Lucy’s got a restaurant license through the city in order to be eligible, while Lucky’s acquired a liquor license.
Out of the nine aldermen present, all but one voiced support for limiting future gaming establishments. Ezard says they don’t want Jacksonville to become the gaming capital of Illinois.
“You know, where we have gaming parlors everywhere. I think they’ve given it a lot of thought the last two weeks and even the last couple months when these have come into effect, but they felt two’s adequate for a size town that we have,” Ezard explains.
“And of course, the taverns and the pouring licenses already have gaming in place and people can go in there and game as well, bu they’re very comfortable with the two we have in place and all the others that have existing gaming terminals.”
Ezard says he needed aldermen to provide input because his office is sitting on six requests for new video-gaming establishments, including from places like Lucy’s and Lucky’s.
“A couple of package liquor stores have come forward and wanted to add gaming, but they need a pouring license, so the direction the council gave me is: no convenience stores with gaming, no package liquor stores for gaming, and no more gaming parlors,” he says.
Alderman Adonnis Shaw opposed limiting future gaming parlors, arguing aldermen shouldn’t “legislate morality.” Tom Ware, the owner of Lucky’s, was in attendance and stated his lack of support for the move.
“For lack of a better term, I think that’s communist, I think it’s socialism. I’m not saying that gambling can’t become addictive, I mean, so can alcohol, so should we outlaw that?” questioned Ware. “I just believe in letting the free market prevail.”
Ezard says in $54-thousand of gambling revenue has been generated for the city in the first quarter of 2014.
Aldermen also supported raising the fee for coin-operated amusement devices, which includes video gaming terminals. The current fee is $35, but several councilmen wanted it to go as high as $100.
Tom Ware got good news later on in the meeting, when city council approved the first reading of an amended liquor ordinance to grant him a full liquor license. Ware is the owner of Wareco Car Wash on West Morton. He announced his plans to convert the property into a drive-through convenience store.
That brings the total number of businesses that can sell alcohol to 47 in Jacksonville.
Ezard says Ware’s proposal would also have to be approved by the city Plan Commission.
Aldermen approved a request for use of money from the Revolving Loan Fund for expansion of a diesel repair shop into the Eastgate Complex on East Morton. Ezard says the city will loan $75-thousand to Owen Maul for a $400,000, 10,000 square-foot facility. He currently operates a shop in the 8-hundred block of Hardin.
“He was running out of room, and with the water plant displacing him in the future, he decided he wanted to advance and he’s purchased some property out at Eastgate, and we’re very happy to help him out as far as a low-interest loan and wish him the best,” Ezard says.
Aldermen also voted to pre-annex property at 1961 Baldwin Road to allow property owners there to hook up to the city’s water system.
An ordinance was amended regarding the usage of golf carts in the Lake Jacksonville area. Specific language will be added that makes it clear golf carts can be used on public camping points in addition to private campgrounds.
Alderman Tony Williams was not present at last night’s meeting.