Fulton mayor vetoed additional liquor license to crack down on drug-crimes

FULTON, Illinois- The mayor of Fulton vetoed an ordinance to increase the number of liquor licenses in the city. The decision was his roundabout way of cracking down on meth-related crime.

On February 11 Mayor Michael Ottens vetoed an ordinance to increase the number of liquor licenses available in Fulton, according to the Clinton Herald. Ottens wants to prevent more video gaming dens from being set up in Fulton. Business owners need a liquor license to have video gaming machines like video poker or slots. Ottens said the rule is intended to let full-service bars and restaurants to run video gaming machines.

Some people realized if they obtain a liquor license they can open gaming dens. Gaming dens are small businesses who's main purpose is video gaming, not serving drinks. Restaurants attract larger crowds while the gaming only fits several people at a time. Fulton Chief of Police Dave Bartel believes the size of the den makes it ideal for drug deals. Most of Fulton's methamphetamine arrests "were within about an eight-block circle around the gaming den" by the shell station, according to Bartels.

On the other hand, gaming machines are highly profitable for businesses. Fulton's bars and restaurants paid out between $256,700 and $657,709 in winnings in 2018, according to the Herald. Customers put between $392,000 and $924,000 into machines at different place in Fulton with gaming machines.

In January the Fulton City Council approved an ordinance to allow one more Class A liquor license. They'll need a two-thirds majority to overrule Ottens' veto. The Herald reports the issue will be on the City Council's agenda February 25.

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