Village denies liquor license for Flossmoor BP gas station

The Flossmoor Village Board on Monday denied a request for the Flossmoor BP gas station to obtain a different liquor license so that it could pursue video gambling machines.
 
The BP gas station at 3950 Vollmer Road has a license to sell packaged beer and wine, but owner Gayatri Patel requested a license to sell beer and wine that would be consumable on the premises; this type of liquor license is required for a business to apply for a video gambling license. 
 
Only two businesses in Flossmoor have video gambling licenses, and they are both restaurants.
 
Mayor Paul Braun said the board has seen many similar applications over the years, and the general consensus has been not to extend these licenses beyond restaurants.
 
“This board has had a long history of declining these types of requests,” he said.
 
Patel, who has owned the station for the past year-and-a-half, said she was only requesting the different liquor license so she could get video gambling machines.
 
She said she did not intend to sell alcohol for customers to drink on site. Rather, she wants to stay competitive with nearby Meijer and Speedway gas stations and stay afloat with harsh Cook County taxes. 
 
“We are trying to do as best of what we can do,” Patel said.
 
Laurie Sheppard, a Prairie State Gaming representative, said most customers who use video gambling machines in gas stations are stopping for the convenience rather than to drink alcohol. For example, retirees who don’t want to go to a bar or restaurant often stop in and grab a coffee while using the machines, she said.
 
“We basically sell anywhere from (four to six drinks) in an entire year in the locations that have that because we sell anywhere from $12 to $20 for one can,” Sheppard said. 
 
Braun pointed out that there would be no guarantee a business owner would not sell alcohol to drink on site if they had a license to do so.
 
“It’s really a voluntary situation,” he said.
 
Trustee Perry Hoag said gas station customers typically stop for a few minutes, and giving them the option to buy and drink alcohol within that time seems like a dangerous business model.
 
“At a restaurant, you come, stay for two hours, might have one or two drinks and play a couple of games, and that’s what we have approved in the past, but this is a different type of setup,” he said. “The mobility of the driver is really setting up a drink and drive situation, from what I see.”
 
Trustee Diane Williams said the board should not overestimate the amount of revenue Flossmoor would see from expanding the use of video gambling machines.
 
The village budgets about $4,000 per year in video gambling revenue from its two restaurants that have the machines.
 
“I think a better gauge of what we can expect, is what we already get,” Williams said.
 
Sheppard said video gambling revenue is divided so that 35 percent goes to the business; 35 percent goes to the internal operator (such as Prairie State Gaming); 5 percent goes to the state, and the remaining 25 percent goes to the community.
 
After some discussion, the board declined to vote on Patel’s request.
 

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