Debate Over Video Gaming Rules in Rockford

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Jay Gesner is on a lucky streak; his two Rockford bars, Souse's Lounge and Stumpy's, are doing so well he decided to open up a third place. The city approve his appliucation to open Miss Jill's on East State Street in the heart of the Miracle Mile. Gesner credits his good fortune to the 10 video gaming machines he installed a few months ago.

It's picked up all the time, Stumpy's had them a month longer and business has been better on them but it's strong, pretty strong," says Gesner.

He says he makes thousands of dollars each month off the machines, a jackpot more people want to cash in on. The city of Rockford reports a spike in applications for new liquor licenses. However, last month, all three businesses that applied to install video gaming machines were denied the required liquor license. Aldermen cite fears they'd oversaturate the market.

“I don't blame him for wanting one but for example on the Miracle Mile, that just adds another liquor license in a short span and that's not really the direction you want any business district to be going," says 10th Ward Aldeman Frank Beach.

Gesner says he can understand the council's objections, but he’s confident his business won't cause problems.

"I like to say it's for people like my mom. She’s 70 years old, she doesn't want to go hang out in a bar. It's going to be a nice place, it’s not going to be a dump that has 4 walls and machines," Gesner adds.

Alderman Venita Hervey has called for a moratorium on liquor licenses for new bars until the city can figure out a better way to regulate businesses that want to install video gaming. Since Genser was already approved, he's not affected. He plans to open Miss Jill’s by the fall; he expects that's about how long it will take to get the gaming license from the state.

Aldermen passed a resolution at Monday’s meeting to collect more facts and develop better rules on new bars with gaming machines. It's now up to the codes and regulation committee to figure out how aldermen should tackle the issue.

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