City leaders crack down on restaurants with video gaming

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MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — City leaders are cracking down on restaurants where you can place a bet. There are both restaurant licenses and bar licenses in Mattoon. Both can have video gaming, but there are only 17 bar licenses to give out. That rule was put into place in 2015.

So some businesses have been getting restaurant licenses instead, which are unlimited.

For some background, if you are a restaurant, more than half of the money you make has to be from food.

The idea to look into this issue came from a viewer. They told us Brian’s Place in Mattoon was not making more than half of their money from food, so we asked the city about it. City leaders started checking with all the restaurants in town to make sure they weren’t making more from gaming than they were from food. Brian’s Place, Great Food and Spirits, and One Eyed Jacks were all making more money in gaming versus food sales.

“We’ve always had 17 bar licenses. We did limit it because we didn’t want overpopulation of bars or want bars or gaming facilities on every street corner,” said Mattoon City Administrator Kyle Gill.

We talked to one of the business owners who is facing the threat of losing their restaurant license: Great Food and Spirits. The owner says he doesn’t feel he should have to lose his ability to have video gaming. He says his business is a good contribution to the community. He is appealing the city’s decision.

The owner of Brian’s Place decided to sell the business. The owners of One Eye Jacks had both a restaurant and bar license. They gave up their restaurant license and will just operate as a bar, which means they will lost five of the 10 machines they were operating. Great Food and Spirits is still open while the owners starts the appeal process.

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