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Chester Moto gets council OK for five gambling machines

By Don Berry
Contributing writer
updated: 2/6/2019 6:13 PM

The Chester City Council on Monday gave the Moto Convenience Store approval to add five gambling machines to their business. The company now has to approach the Illinois Gaming Board to get final approval.

To make room for Moto's request, the council had to formally raise to 12 the number of Chester establishments where the city permits gaming. Previously, the number was capped at 11.

Sarah Holdener, the legal council for the company that operates Moto Convenience Stores, appeared at the council meeting to ask for the city's support.

Mayor Tom Page reminded the council that Moto first approached the city in December 2017, requesting a change in their liquor license with the intent to install gambling machines. This was approved but since that time the city capped establishments with gambling at 11.

Holdener said the Moto is a family-owned business and they don't want to just place machines in a corner and install a rope around the area to keep children out.

Instead, they plan to add a 20' by 20' addition to the right side of their building to house their machines, adding tables, chairs, and a television for people who are waiting. The addition would have room for more gambling machines in the event more machines are allowed in the future.

Holdener said a study of the demographics suggests that most of their customers will be female and they typically come in during the day and drink and soda, not alcohol. She said most gamblers who want to drink and gamble choose a bar instead of a convenience store.

She added that the Chester Moto, which opened in 1990, has undergone an extensive remodel which included replacing their underground tanks.

Alderman Nancy Crossland asked about the time frame needed to complete this project and Holdener replied approximately two months from start to finish.

Alderman Robert Platt asked what happens if Moto does not get state approval or changes their plans. Page responded that the council could either change the ordinance back to 11 establishments, or just hold onto that 12th approval to see if another request would come along.

The council approved changing the ordinance to 12 with a cap of 60 machines allowed in the city altogether.

Platt and Alderman Ray Allison voted no. Alderman Donny Clark was absent.

Other business

• Police Chief Bobby Helmers reported that his department has finally received the new squad cars and reminded the council it takes nine months to get them when cars are ordered in the future. The Chester and Sparta police also Active Shooter class to their schools and they may incorporate some of their presentation in Chester schools in the future.

• Fire Chief Marty Bert, meanwhile, said his department had five fire calls in January. Two members of the department were honored for 30 years of service -- Assistant Chief Ron Shemonic and Captain Jerre Atchison.

• Page appointed a negotiating committee of Dan Geisen, Dan Ohlau and Russ Rader to negotiate with the Fraternal Order of Police, on a new contract between the police department and the city.