The developer of the Jack Flash convenience store planned for a site next to the Hofbräuhaus under construction and the planned Hyatt Place hotel off Illinois 15 in Belleville wants to put five video gaming terminals in the store.
Belleville aldermen are expected to vote Monday night on a proposed ordinance to amend the city’s video gaming and convenience store ordinances that would pave the way for the request, which would still have to be approved by the Illinois Gaming Board.
John Wortman, the owner of the Effingham-based Jack Flash chain of stores in Central Illinois, could not be reached for comment.
Wortman wants the store to be classified as a truck stop instead of a convenience store because a truck stop can have video gaming, Mayor Mark Eckert said.
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Wortman announced last February that he would build the Jack Flash next to the Hofbräuhaus, but construction has not yet begun. The developers of the Hofbräuhaus have said construction on the Jack Flash and a $28 million Hyatt Place would begin this spring.
To qualify as a truck stop, a store must sell an average of 10,000 gallons of diesel or biodiesel fuel each month and be located on at least three acres, according to the Illinois Gaming Board.
They believe that they’ll sell a pretty significant amount of diesel to buses because the Shrine has a lot of buses that come to their venue every year. He’s not trying to be the Flying J.
Mayor Mark Eckert
Eckert said Wortman expects to meet the fuel requirement, and the planned site for the Jack Flash covers three acres.
The Jack Flash will not market the store for truckers since the Flying J truck stop is located about a mile west on Illinois 15 in Alorton, Eckert said.
Instead, they intend to recruit tour buses that stop at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows across the highway and buses that would stop at the Hofbräuhaus.
“They’re looking at the bus fuel,” Eckert said. “They believe that they’ll sell a pretty significant amount of diesel to buses because the Shrine has a lot of buses that come to their venue every year. He’s not trying to be the Flying J.”
Joe Hayden, a former Belleville alderman who was on the City Council when the Hofbräuhaus site was first announced two years ago, said aldermen were told that a convenience store would be built at the complex.
“This is simply a gambit to give one gas station a gambling license and not allow others,” Hayden said in an email. He also said Missouri-based tour buses would not buy gas in Belleville because the Illinois tax on gasoline is higher than Missouri’s tax.
“The mayor needs to admit that he is desperate to come up with a way to have gambling. I do not believe you would need to be classified a truck stop to fuel buses that likely have a fuel provider already,” said Hayden, who unsuccessfully challenged Eckert in the 2013 mayoral race.
This is simply a gambit to give one gas station a gambling license and not allow others.
Joe Hayden, former Belleville alderman
Hayden said he doesn’t think the Jack Flash video gaming would be compatible with a development that plans to have upscale restaurants and a Hyatt.
“Mr. Hayden doesn’t have all the facts,” Eckert said.
Eckert said the proposed video gaming terminals would be similar to the five in the Jack Flash in Farmersville off Interstate 55, near Springfield. He has visited the Jack Flash in Farmersville and described the gaming room there as “extremely nice and extremely tasteful.”
The mayor also said the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the religious order that runs the Shrine and the owners of the land where the Hofbräuhaus complex is being built, do not have a problem with Jack Flash’s video gaming request.
Eckert said the city does not have plans to allow convenience stores to open bars inside the stores in order to get video gaming.
Video gaming was approved by state lawmakers in 2009 and went online in 2012 for bars, veterans clubs, fraternal clubs and truck stops.
In 2016, Belleville received $246,474 in video gaming revenue, up 21 percent from the $203,525 collected in 2015, according to the Illinois Gaming Board. There were 29 establishments in Belleville with 129 video gaming terminals in 2016.
The state’s share of video gaming revenue was about $277 million in 2016 and $228 million in 2015.
The proposed ordinance that aldermen will consider Monday night defines a bus/truck stop as a place that meets the gaming board’s definition of a truck stop and it adds that the business must be within two miles of an interstate highway exit. The proposed Jack Flash site is less than two miles from the Illinois 15 exit on Interstate 255.
The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at Lindenwood University-Belleville, 2600 W. Main St., because City Hall is being renovated.
Construction began on the $12 million Hofbräuhaus in late 2015. The German restaurant and brewery is being developed by Chuck Keller, of Effingham, and his sons. The Kellers previously have said the restaurant would be open last summer, and then they said in the fall. In November, Keller said the new goal was May 1, but his spokesman has said the opening would be determined by when the winter weather breaks and how soon construction crews could begin working on the parking lot and entry road.
The hotel, restaurant and conference center project was first announced in early 2015, and the Belleville City Council has since approved about $38 million in tax incentives based on city tax revenue generated at the site. The Kellers can get up $32.36 million in tax incentives, while the developer of a proposed soccer park was eligible for $5.5 million in incentives. The developer of the soccer park died last summer, and no announcements regarding a soccer park have been made since then.
Also, aldermen agreed to spend more than $2 million to extend sewer lines to the development.