LANSING | Several dozen people packed a Village Board meeting Tuesday to urge municipal officials to change local ordinances to permit video gambling.
Donald Genovese, owner of the Lan-Oak Lanes bowling alley at 2524 Ridge Road, said many of the businesses that have the gambling machines for amusement will want to get state licenses to allow prize payouts.
If Lansing ordinances prohibit all gambling, village businesses could be harmed, Genovese said.
“If we don’t get an ordinance change, there will be people who will go out of town," Genovese said.
That could include his own business.
“If the economy stays the same and we don’t get the video machines, there may no longer be bowling in Lansing,” he said.
Many surrounding communities are changing their local ordinances because of a change in state law. The Illinois Video Gaming Act allows video gambling games at eligible, licensed establishments.
In communities that legalize the games, the state takes a cut of the proceeds from the games to help fund road repairs.
In Lansing, officials are not thrilled about the idea of more gambling in town.
Village President Norm Abbott, who previously said municipal officials would discuss the issue in detail sometime this summer, said Tuesday he isn't sure when video gambling would be addressed.
“I’m not sure when it will be on the agenda. The board hasn’t decided yet," Abbott said.
That didn’t stop local officials, including representatives of the American Legion and Knights of Columbus, the owners of Kilroy’s and J.J. Kelley’s taverns, the Dixie Kitchen Bait Shop restaurant and the Lansing Country Club from arguing in favor of gambling machines.
Charles Mabry, the hall chairman of American Legion Post 697, said his organization deserves consideration because of all the community programs it supports in Lansing.
“Video poker is a chance to save the American Legion in Lansing,” he said. “We’ve already lost the (Veterans of Foreign Wars post), and the American Legion is an integral part of Lansing.”
A few local residents spoke out against gambling.
John Faber said Lansing is a great place to live.
"That’s why the ordinances (against gambling) are in place," Faber said. "Why should we concede to that?”
Abbott said he appreciated hearing from people in the community, although he would not commit to what action he would take.
Village Trustee Dan Lyzenga took a firm stance — he remains opposed to expanded gambling in any form.
“I, personally, am totally anti-gambling,” he said. “I just don’t see us gambling our way into prosperity.”