A fortnight after the plan to eliminate some restrictions regarding and video gambling and liquor licenses in downtown Waukegan was rejected, two aldermen altered their votes, which has pushed the proposed measure through.
The recently created entertainment district in downtown Waukegan aims at eliminating some of the restrictions on video gambling and liquor licenses, including a controversial requirement about the distance at which video gambling could be offered as part of the authorities’ attempt to limit the profitability of this form of gambling.
Last week, Ald. Sylvia Sims Bolton and Ald. Felix Rivera changed decisions, switching their “no” votes to “yes”. By doing this, they joined three other Aldermen, including Ald. Patrick Seger, Keith Turner and Greg Moisio, who approved the proposed measure. At the time when the vote took place, Ald. Roudell Kirkwood abstained, and Ald. Lynn Florian, Edith Newsome and Ann Taylor voted against the proposal.
While Ald. Rivera did not provide any comment on the change in his opinion, during the meeting, Ald. Bolton revealed that she now better understands the issue.
Ald. Taylor has shared that the measure should have gone through the Waukegan Council’s committee process, considering the size and importance of the area involved. According to a copy of the approved ordinance, the entertainment district that is to be situated from West Street in the west to the lakefront, and from Grand Avenue to the north, to Belvidere Road to the south.
Authorities Should Make Sure Businesses Do Not Mainly Rely on Video Gambling
One the aldermen who voted against the proposed measure, Ald. Taylor reminded that the downtown area of the city is known for the history of businesses which struggle to remain operational and suggested that there should be a new requirement to businesses to be operating for a certain amount of time before being able to ask for a video gambling license.
According to Ald. Ann Taylor, it would be more appropriate for local authorities to first see how businesses handle their operations before granting them video gambling licenses to make sure businesses do not rely on gambling revenue to run their operations. She believes that businesses which rely on gambling money to run their operations, do not have a business plan which is good enough.
As explained by Mayor Sam Cunningham, the city of Waukegan has been forced to move forward with the proposal because the local council had already given the nod to a lease with a couple of liquor businesses.
Apart from that, Waukegan Attorney Bob Long shared that during a final review, the city staff found that the location is too close to a church. Under the existing state law, liquor license holders are required to be situated at least 100 feet from a church, but the city’s ordinances set a minimum of 400 feet. No waiver process is included in the code like the latter does for the distance requirement between local establishments offering video gambling.