Wednesday, June 12, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: The Maywood Mart Care, 1701 Harrison St. in Maywood, which wants to add video gaming. | File
The owners of a Maywood gas station and convenience store are seeking to add a video gaming room where alcohol will be served, but the prospect of that happening seem dim.
At a June 4 regular Maywood Board of Trustees meeting, several community members and trustees pushed back vigorously against the idea of granting Maywood Mart Care, 1701 Harrison St., the ability to operate gaming terminals and to sell liquor.
During the meeting, Laurie Shepard, the corporate account executive for Prairie State Gaming, presented Maywood Mart’s plans to trustees on behalf of the owner.
She said that the Mobile gas station and convenience mart is looking to get a license to operate gaming terminals and sell alcohol within a gaming room. Guests would only be allowed to consume alcohol within the gaming room, which would be monitored by a surveillance camera.
Shepard said that the area would be “blocked off” and restricted only to those over the age of 21. She added that the gaming room would go in a space in the back of the store that once housed a mechanic’s garage, but is currently only being used for storage. Shepard said that, once the revenue from gaming starts flowing, the owners will rebrand the Mobile gas station as a new Shell station.
“Maywood would benefit from this very much,” Shepard told trustees, adding that the village would be able to spend the money however it sees fit.
According to the business plan that Shepard presented to trustees, the mart will target the roughly 183,000 vehicles that pass by the village on I-290 each day. The traffic represents “a total market opportunity of $4.8 million.”
Michael Jurusik, the village’s attorney, said that Maywood may have to amend its village code to allow the mart to get the license.
Maywood Village Clerk Viola Mims added that, so far, that “in order for this establishment [a video gaming bistro inside of a gas station] to come into our town, there would have to be an ordinance, because we have no class for this type of establishment.”
Owners of Maywood Mart Care say that they’d open up a space in the back of the mart for a video gaming room. | File
The only class of liquor license that the board has granted video gaming establishments is a Class M — which goes to gaming bistro operations.
So far, the board has granted Class M liquor licenses to only two bistros — Lacey’s Place, at 611 W. Roosevelt Rd., and Lucky Bernie’s, which has yet to open inside of the strip mall at 608-22 S. 5th Ave.
Most people who responded to Shepard’s proposal on June 4, however, voiced opposition to allowing another gaming operation to open in the village — regardless of the class of license that’s required for it to operate.
“For a bunch of different reasons, I am totally against opening anything pertaining to gaming on 17th and Harrison,” said Trustee Isiah Brandon, who referenced the high crime in the area.
“I think its a horrible location to have anything dealing with gaming or liquor — especially liquor,” he said. “We have a liquor establishment on 17th and Madison and one on the bridge a couple steps away. There’s too much going on in that one little area. No.”
“Why would we consider putting a gambling and drinking location inside of a gas station?” said Trustee Nathaniel George-Booker.
Loretta Robinson, a longtime Maywood resident who lives in the area, said that she’s “not in agreement on anymore confusion on 17th and Harrison … And then you need to be asking the people who live around there whether or not they’re interested in having any gaming.”
“I say thank you to anybody who talked against this, because two [gambling bistros] is enough and I don’t think we need to be bothered with having any more,” said longtime Maywood resident Gloria Clay.
Shepard said that residents’ fears about crime and other social vices related to gaming are often overblown. She said that the average person who utilizes the gaming terminals don’t consume alcohol.
“Joe’s leaving work, he wants to decompress, he goes in, he sits down, plays games, picks up his milk, takes it home, goes home to his family, then buys his gas next week and comes back,” she said. “He’s not taking his revenue to another town. I feel that Maywood would very much benefit from this.”
Shepard referenced the case of a store in Kankakee that installed gaming terminals where alcohol is consumed. She said the community had a similarly negative initial reaction to the idea.
“I actually got a comment from the chief of police on how wonderful that corner [where the store is located] now is,” Shepard said. “I ask you to look at some of these other communities before you have your minds completely closed to the option.”
George-Booker asked Shepard if she could provide any success stories located not in rural communities, but in areas similar to 17th and Harrison in Maywood.
Shepard said that she would provide a list of those examples, along with other information pertaining to the proposal, to the Board of Trustees. The matter could come before the board again. VFP
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