I attended the City Council meeting Tuesday to provide support for Chris Parsley, president of Falls Area Bicylists, in his presentation on right turn on red that we discussed on The Patrick Lalley Show. Then I stuck around for the rest of the meeting. There was only one substantive item – the rewrite of some of the beer and wine regulations in the city.

But what’s really at the core of the the issue is video lottery. Specifically, the regulations involve multiple malt beverage licenses in one building. We’ve all seen this because it allows a video lottery operator to double or triple the number of machines they can have under one roof if there are separate entrances, restrooms and service areas.

Technically the change would allow shared storage and refrigeration units between separate businesses without being able to share the actual storage space or move alcohol between units. But it also allowed the creation of entrances to a common space between the businesses.

What it’s really about is being able to have one employee run multiple video lottery outlets without going outside. That’s where things came to a screeching halt at the council meeting.

In straight lawmaking terms, the council probably should have passed it to conform with state law, which is what really regulates video lottery. There’s not that much the city can do in terms of the vid lot.

The council tied 4-4 on the update, which left it to Mayor Mike Huether to break the tie. After a discernible sigh and off-mic consultation with the city attorney’s office, the mayor voted no.

Well done mayor. Yes, it’s probably not consistent with state law, but it’s the right thing to do. Expansion of video lottery in this way isn’t good for our city. It’s not what anybody expected when vid lot passed. And it would continue the consolidation of ownership.

There’s entirely too much secrecy involved in vid lot. It’s morphed into an underbelly of gambling in our community where people prefer anonymity. The social costs have been immeasurable and as it goes more and more into the dark corners it’s only getting worse.

So good for Mayor Huether and the council for saying no. If the state has a problem with it, bring it on. In this case, the court fight, if it ever came to that, is worth it for the good of the community.

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