The Columbia City Council Committee of the Whole on Monday night put the finishing touches on proposed revisions to the city’s liquor code that will provide some restrictions on video gaming if passed.
The intent of the proposed changes to the liquor code is to restrict gaming in gas stations and gaming parlors while continuing to allow them in qualifying bars and restaurants as they are now, city administrator Jimmy Morani explained.
“The law doesn’t allow us to license and regulate the gaming. It allows us to license and regulate the liquor,” said Morani in December, when council members began discussing the changes.
According to the state’s Video Gaming Act, only establishments with on-premise liquor licenses can apply for gaming terminals.
Among the proposed changes to the current liquor code is the distinction that a pourable, on-site liquor license would not be issued to any establishment that derives more than 50 percent of its revenue from video gaming. Additionally, no business would be able to hold more than one type of liquor license, nor could any type of liquor license be issued to a business that shares a common wall with another business with a liquor license unless they two are completely separated from each other with separate entrances and exits.
“The intent is to not eliminate the restaurants and bars that have them, nor prohibit the way they’re currently being used in a majority of establishments in the city. The sense is the gaming parlors and video gaming rooms at gas stations are just not what I think the city envisioned when the state passed this law,” Morani said in December.
The revised liquor code would allow the city’s only video gaming parlor, Ace’s Wild, to retain its license under a “grandfather clause,” but no new parlors will be approved.
If the changes are passed, they will immediately take effect for any new applicants.
The full council will consider these changes at the next regular meeting on Jan. 16.
Representatives of the Columbia American Legion Post 581 and Auxiliary, and the Sons of the American Legion, addressed the committee about their interest in begging a Hometown Heroes Banner Program.
“There’s nothing like it,” said Janet Janson, president of the Post 581 auxiliary, who is spearheading the project.
Referencing a similar program in Collinsville, one or two banners would be displayed on streetlight poles along Main Street. Each banner would have a name, military photo, and dates and branch of service.
After being displayed for approximately two years, the banners would be taken down and given to the purchasers for their personal use.
The estimated cost is about $110.
“We have many people who have expressed interest that they have family members they would love to be honored in this way,” Janson said.
Collinsville’s initial program sold out in a matter of months when it was launched in 2016.
“I saw firsthand what (Collinsville) had and it was pretty impressive,” said Greg Smith, Post 581 commander. “I thought, ‘What a nice way to honor veterans in the community.’ So Janet got me on board pretty quick and I’m a big supporter of the Hometown Heroes Banner Project.”
There are several details still to be worked out. Among them are the exact location of placement, when they would be displayed, and when they would be retired. Initially, the banners will likely be displayed from the intersection of Route 3 and North Main Street to Rueck Road, where the Historic Main Street banners begin. Where the Hometown Heroes banners might extend or if they will eventually take over from the Historic Main Street banners will be determined as the response and interest are gauged.
The goal is to have the program active by Veterans Day in November.
The proposal will be voted on by the full city council at the Jan. 16 meeting.