The Village of St. Joseph is asking residents for feedback regarding a proposed new liquor license.
During a Jan. 18 committee meeting, Mayor Tami Fruhling-Voges told Trustees Dan Davis, Jim Wagner, Terri Cummings and Art Rapp that they needed to consider what they wanted for the community and talk to their constituents regarding creating a package/pour liquor license.
“I think it would be helpful to talk amongst the community and get a feel for what the community really wants—reach out and get an idea,” she said. “That is an important part of being a trustee.”
The village board will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. to discuss the matter further.
Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting, wearing a mask and observing social distancing or they can email email@example.com and include their name and address with their opinion.
Jack Flash recently attended a village board meeting and requested that the village consider creating and giving them a pour liquor license in order to allow them to have video gambling.
Illinois State statute says that in order to have video gaming, an establishment must have a liquor license that allows drinks to be available for consumption on the premises.
The convenience store asked the village for the exact same license almost exactly a year ago. The village declined their request after citizens came to the board and said they were not in favor of the new license.
Previously, Fruhling-Voges said the license would have restrictions and guidelines that would have to be met, including the amount of alcohol served and how much of the business’s income was derived from video gaming. They had discussed a two-drink limit last year that would be enforced. Jack Flash said they would only be serving beer.
Fruhling-Voges told the trustees at the committee meeting that a package-pour license could add as many as 18 machines to the village. Currently anyone with a restaurant liquor license could have gambling machines. There are currently five restaurants with a liquor license and two of them, Roch’s and El Toro, have gambling machines- for a total of nine machines within the village. Each restaurant can have as many as six machines due to state statute.
Restaurants have to have 51 percent of their sales be from food as a requirement of their liquor license.
Fruhling-Voges said previous boards and the community have made it clear that they do not want gaming parlors or bars within the village.
Fruhling-Voges also told the committee that Village Attorney Joe Lierman, when looking into the issue last year, found it difficult to find a package pour license that would work for the village.
“That would be one challenge,” Fruhling-Voges said.
Fruhling-Voges said some positives to creating the license would be additional revenue for the storm water fund, since all revenue for the village from video gambling goes into the fund, gamblers would have options within town and video gaming does help subsidize the businesses that have it.
Fruhling-Voges also shared her personal concerns.
“We don’t want the gaming parlors and we do not want bars in the community,” she said. “Trying to create this license you are a straddling a bar and a gaming parlor. It’s somewhere in the middle.”
Fruhling-Voges also reminded the board that if they create this license it would be difficult, if not impossible, to refuse the same license to the other two businesses that have package licenses currently, Casey’s and the IGA.
“I can’t imagine if we allow Jack Flash to have up to six machines that Casey’s would not try to find room and I know Todd Woods has already mentioned that he would want to do the same thing,” she said. “That would add 18 more machines where we would have to monitor sales versus alcohol and gaming.”
Jackie Wortman, with Jack Flash, said they are asking for the license because the business used to sell pizza but that ended over a year ago.
“We have extra space where we could put a game room,” she said. “We build a high quality product. We also take compliance with Illinois Gaming Board rules very seriously and we do our own in-house stings.”
Wortman stressed that Jack Flash considers itself a small business.
“We are a family business,” she said. “We have more than one store. We are out in the community. I think COVID has been difficult for us the same way it has for a lot of different people. Our numbers were way down this year, specifically in St. Joseph and communities that are just off the Interstate. It would be beneficial to have additional revenue as well.”
Jack Flash has 17 stores in Illinois and Missouri.
Trustee Jim Wagner said his biggest concern was increasing the number of machines that could deb allowed in the village.
“We currently have five licenses that allow gaming. Which would put 30 machines in the village. I don’t want anymore than that in this community. At some point it would reach saturation.”
Lisa Wortman, also of Jack Flash, pointed out that even though five restaurants could have video gambling, so far only two have opted to.
“They could have done this five years ago and didn’t,” she said.
Wagner said that he knew at least two other restaurants were exploring whether to include video gambling in their establishments.
The issue is on the agenda for the Jan. 26 meeting.