LANSING | The Village Board on Tuesday could give final approval to a measure that will permit Lansing taverns and restaurants to obtain state-issued licenses for video poker and other gambling machines in their establishments.
Village officials on Friday released an agenda for the meeting that says a video gaming ordinance will be up for review at the board meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the municipal court complex, 2710 170th St.
If the agenda is followed as written, the issue would be presented to, and voted on by, the Village Board at that time. If standard policy for Village Board meetings is followed, there will be no comments permitted by the public until after the board votes on the measure.
Village Administrator J. Wynsma said the decision to place the issue on the agenda for consideration this week was made late Friday, after he met with Village Attorney Timothy Lapp. Lapp has spent the past few weeks reviewing the gambling issue.
Originally, Village President Norm Abbott hoped an ordinance could be crafted that would only permit businesses that previously had gambling machines for amusement purposes to apply to the state for the new licenses, which allow cash prizes to be paid to winners.
But on Friday, Abbott said attorneys had advised him the village cannot restrict the licenses in such a way because state law now allows businesses that serve liquor to apply for them.
Lansing municipal ordinances specifically prohibit all forms of gambling. Unless Lansing alters those ordinances, no local businesses would be able to gain a state license to pay out on video poker machines.
Abbott said ordinance changes to be made Tuesday will be in compliance with state law.
Representatives from several area businesses have attended board meetings in recent months to make it known they want the revenue from such machines, and that they expect trustees to be sympathetic.
One such business owner is Jo-Ellyn Kelley, a co-owner of J.J. Kelley’s at 2455 Bernice Road, who has been an outspoken supporter of changing the local ordinance. On Sunday, she was subdued in her reaction to the measure being put up for vote.
“I’m hopeful they will act wisely,” Kelley said of the trustees.
But several Lansing residents who attended the Autumn Fest celebration this past weekend were less enthused.
“I can see people losing a lot of money on it,” said Ann Ahern, a lifelong Lansing resident.
Her friend, Katie Dolinar, said “I don’t really like it, but I’m sure the local businesses could use the revenue.”
More blunt in his opposition was Bernie Howell, an 18-year Lansing resident, who said he thinks village officials are ignoring concerns of the public about gambling.
“They do a lot of things without taking the public into account,” Howell said. Village officials “do what they want to do, not what we want them to do.”