The Greenville City Council discussed different ways to restrict video gaming on the Greenville Square during their regular meeting held Wednesday night at City Hall.
The nearly two hour discussion ranged in ideas from rezoning the properties around the square to exclude certain types of businesses, specifically gaming cafes, to removing gaming entirely from the city limits, or allowing gaming city wide and restricting liquor licenses.
In the past the city had an ordinance in place that restricted video gaming from being on the square. That ordinance was changed early this year and the geographic restrictions were dropped.
At Wednesday nights’ meeting City Manager Dave Willey said it’s his belief those types of geographical restrictions are probably illegal and that the city likely made a mistake in passing such an ordinance. Councilman Kenny Hampton expressed his displeasure saying Wednesday night’s meeting was the first time he was hearing from the city manager or the city attorney, Patrick Schaufelberger, that the geographical restrictions were likely illegal, “That really bothers me” Hampton said.
Willey said the council could possibly still restrict gaming in two different ways. First, the council could refuse to issue any more liquor licenses. Then, there would be no more gaming locations in Greenville, since Illinois law requires a liquor licenses to have a gaming license. Several councilmen said this was not an acceptable solution since not issuing any more liquor licenses could keep businesses out of Greenville, especially restaurants. Willey said it’s also his belief that restrictions on where gaming could take place could be accomplished through zoning ordinances, but Willey said more research needs to be done to make sure that is possible and legal.
Not all council members seemed keen on denying gaming on the Greenville square. Roger Sanders expressed the view that he had seen many restaurants have to close on the square and if they are denied a revenue stream that other businesses in town can take advantage of, there will likely be more empty buildings on the square. Mayor Alan Gaffner said restricting gaming could also affect businesses decisions in their site selection processes.
Councilman Mike Heath summarized the situation succinctly saying, “We’re at the point where there will be alcohol and gaming or no alcohol and no gaming,” on the Greenville square, to which Willey said, “That is correct.”
The only exception to that may be a complicated rezoning process that may or may not be legal.
In the end, no decision was made and no clear consensus was reached that would indicate if the majority of councilmen want or don’t want gaming on the square.
Willey said he will continue to research options for the city and the discussion will likely continue at future meetings.
Currently there are no geographical restrictions on gaming in Greenville.
Gaffner also shared with the council that the liquor license that had been requested to open a gaming café on the square has been withdrawn by the requestee.