A restaurant on the Woodstock Square will offer video gambling after a divided City Council voted to allow it.
La Placita, 108 Cass St., was granted a gambling license May 2 despite concern from some council members over the restaurant’s location and an earlier promise that it would never host gambling.
When La Placita owner Edgardo Urbina received a liquor license from the city in 2015, he told the council he wouldn’t allow video gambling in his restaurant. A liquor license is a prerequisite for an establishment to have gambling machines.
“That decision [to grant a liquor license] was made very clearly with the promise of not pursuing video gambling,” Councilwoman Maureen Larson said.
Urbina told the council he regretted making that promise because competition from other restaurants with gambling licenses has made it tough to stay in business.
“It’s pretty hard to sustain,” Urbina said. “I’m asking for the opportunity that the other businesses have gotten.”
Woodstock’s Lisa Hanson said she was concerned about the amount of video gambling in Woodstock. She is co-owner of The Backdrop, a shop adjacent to Urbina’s restaurant.
“I don’t think you realize how much it seems like that is the focus of Woodstock — the bars and gambling — and that is discouraging to me as a business owner who’s not in that business,” Hanson told the council.
Councilman Jim Prindiville said he opposed granting the license because of the restaurant’s prominent location at the corner of Cass and Main streets.
“That’s a really important building that is a symbol of what our downtown is,” Prindiville said. “In that sense, I don’t think video gambling is compatible with the use and vision that we have for our town.”
But Mayor Brian Sager said it would be wrong for the city to deny a gambling license to La Placita while allowing it at competing restaurants.
“I think it would be unfair, in my mind, to limit the opportunity for you to have video gaming when other businesses have that right,” Sager told Urbina.
Woodstock’s Jenn Feeley agreed, saying council members would be penalizing La Placita for the council’s previous decisions to allow gambling if they were to deny the restaurant a license.
The council approved the license 4-2, with Larson and Prindiville voting no. Councilman Dan Hart recused himself from the vote.
At the same meeting, the council voted 6-0 to approve a video gambling license for Rendezvous Bistro, 2400 Lake Shore Drive. The restaurant previously hosted video gambling machines when it was under different ownership.