The City of Jacksonville is sticking to only 2 gaming parlors in the corporate limits. The city council voted down a first reading amending the city’s gaming license ordinance to extend it to 3 total licenses. The extension would have allowed Cardinal Restaurant Group to place a gaming parlor on East Morton Avenue two doors down from Dunkin Donuts.
The property owners Highland Ventures, a parent company of the now defunct Family Video, owns the property. Brent Connelly, property manager for Highland, told the council that his group is trying to help Cardinal get to 35 locations open around the state by the end of the year: “As the landlord, it’s important for us to partner with financially responsible organizations. We are really excited about doing this project with them. I think since this property has been open – we have now had this, I believe 5 years. This will hopefully be a segue into a 100%-occupied property for us. Outside of the gaming facility, we have another party that is coming into the end cap.”
Lori Forsyth of Cardinal Restaurant Group said that Cardinal currently averages $38,000 in additional revenue to the municipalities that they are currently in. She said after doing marketing analysis in Jacksonville that there is a demand for more gaming in the city: “We have found that [there is] a need or a want, a demand for the gaming. We’ve ran the numbers and ran the existing portfolio, and we’ve found that we believe there is enough for everybody. That [the market] is not saturated as the way it is today. We wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t a demand. It’s a lot of money and a lot of investment to come in and lease a place and do the build-out costs, so we believe there is a demand for more locations. This will be just another [gaming] establishment. A lot of times you’ve got 5 or 6 machines and they are all full at a location [in Jacksonville] and people are waiting to get in. This would just give 6 more games throughout the community where [people] will just jump from one location to another.” Forsyth said that the new location would offer a light food menu, if any at all. She says that Cardinal’s currently location in Shiloh actually has no food and would encourage patrons to order in or deliver to their location to support local restaurants. Forsyth said the Shiloh location is currently the most successful video gaming parlor in the Metro East region.
Ward 5 Alderman Don Cook brought up concerns about service establishments having the new parlor taking away their current video gaming business. Cook said that video gaming is sometime those locations lone avenue of income. Ward 2 Alderwoman Lori Large-Oldenettel brought up optics and morality, saying that gaming and gambling was a bad look for the city and due to her family, she didn’t want to see more gaming machines in town. Ward 4 Alderman Aaron Scott brought up the fact that the city has shot down additional attempts to add gaming parlors over the last 5 years. Scott says by adding the additional license it would open the gates for more applications from gas stations and other locations. Mayor Andy Ezard told the council that the other attempts had not taken the formal steps like Cardinal Restaurant Group to come before the council to ask for the additional license.
The council ultimately voted 6-0 against adding the additional license, with 3 abstentions. For now, the city will remain with the 2 gaming parlor licenses. Cardinal Restaurant Group and Highland Ventures provided no comment after the vote.