The Morton Grove village board has updated the village's liquor control ordinance, lowering the number of liquor licenses available, creating a new BYOB class of liquor license, specifying no alcohol will be sold 30 minute before closing and, perhaps most importantly, placing tight restrictions on establishments that have video gaming.
"It's to be proactive. We just thought the number of licenses should be a reasonable number," said Ryan Horne, village administrator. "It's a little bit pre-emptive. We just wanted to make sure the character of Morton Grove is maintained."
Terry Liston, the village's corporation counsel, explained that since a business must hold a liquor license in order to have video gaming, the village could tighten the liquor code in order to place restrictions on video gaming.
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"We regulate video gaming through our liquor code," she explained. "If you violate our provisions or the state provisions, you lose your liquor license and therefore you lose your video gaming license. One regulates the other."
Liston recalled that when the state created video gaming a few years ago and gave municipalities the option to opt out, she and other staff had conversations with the mayor and trustees and were told they were not opposed to video gaming, but wanted to put safeguards in place.
For that reason, the ordinance reduces the number of Class A (full liquor) licenses from 15 to 8, the number of Class B (beer and wine) licenses from 15 to 8 and the number of Class C (clubs) liquor licenses from four to two.
Because a Class A, B or C license is required in order to have video gaming, the ordinance restricts which, and how many, establishments can offer it.
Peter Falcone, assistant village administrator, said the ordinance's restrictions go beyond what the state requires to regulate video gaming. For example, he said, Morton Grove requires video cameras to record people who are entering and exiting the gaming area.
Other highlights of the revised liquor ordinance include:
- It creates a BYOB license, for restaurants which do not sell alcohol but allow patrons to bring in beer and wine. There are restrictions on how much alcohol may be consumed.
- It requires ceasing the serving of liquor 30 minutes before closing; patrons may finish their drinks in that time, but not order more.
- It states establishments with A, B or C liquor licenses which have video gaming must also hold video gaming permits from the state and the village. The village's permit costs $250 per machine.
- The video gaming machines must be in an area restricted to people 21 and older, not visible from the street, but visible to an employee, the ordinance states.
So far in Morton Grove, the Bringer Inn has installed video gaming. Liston said the Moose Club, the American Legion Hall, Tommy's and Hal Mae Bo Ssam, at 9412 Waukegan Road, have applied to the Illinois Gaming Board for video gaming.
Mayor Dan Staackmann said the village is taking a highly regulated approach to head off any problems.
"We take liquor licenses very seriously," he said. "We were one of the first communities to require BASSET training and we require it in house. Our police department does several liquor stings a year. You can't be too cautious."