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City debates changes in gambling licenses

By Don Berry
Contributing Writer
updated: 10/16/2018 5:00 PM

The Chester City Council spent a good portion of its meeting Oct. 15 discussing changes in way gambling licenses are handled in the city, but in the end decided not to approve any revisions at this time.

A proposal brought to the board would limit the number of licenses available in the city. Currently, Chester has 11 licenses, all of which are assigned to local businesses with gambling machines. There are a number of businesses in town could qualify for a gambling license, but the proposed ordinance would prevent any of these establishments from being able to obtain a gambling license until one of the current 11 is relinquished.

In order for a business to obtain a gambling license from the state, they must first have a liquor license from the local government. Not all businesses with liquor licenses have gambling licenses at this time. Clerk Bethany Berner said Chester has 11 or 12 class A licenses, 5 Class B, 5 or 6 Class C, and 1 Class D.

Alderman Dan Ohlau questioned why the city would want to put a cap on gambling licenses. Mayor Tom Page responded that 11 places with licenses was enough and the city is being saturated with gambling machines.

Page noted that, if at a later time the city wanted to add licenses, it could revisit the ordinance and change it. Ohlau said he didn't want to have to revisit the issue and made a motion to add one more license so there would be one in reserve. Alderman Platt disagreed, saying he felt there were already too many places and did not want to see Chester become known as place to drink and gamble.

Alderman Robert Rader seconded Ohlau's motion to increase the number to twelve. The motion was defeated by a vote of 4-1. The original ordinance was presented and was also defeated, this time by a vote of 3-2. Aldermen Nancy Crossland, Dan Geisen, and Donnie Clark were absent from the meeting.

By not passing the ordinance, the number of gambling licenses available in the city is limited only by the number of liquor licenses issued by the Mayor.

In other business, Fire Captain Ron Shemonic presented Jayce Wilderman as a candidate for a position of Auxiliary Firefighter and the Council approved and welcomed him to the Department.

Librarian Tammy Grah reported on the good turnout for the Smithsonian Exhibit and told of the many visitors, some coming from as far away as Brisbane, Austrailia. The exhibit runs until Saturday, Oct. 20.

The next City Council meeting is at 6 p.m. Nov. 5 and the public is welcome to attend.