LANSING | Local businesses interested in installing video poker machines and residents who hate the idea of legalized gambling were prepared for a verbal brawl Tuesday – one that never materialized.
Village President Norm Abbott began the Village Board meeting by telling the dozens of people in attendance that discussion of the issue would be postponed until a future date.
For two months, Abbott had said he wanted trustees to discuss the issue in October of whether to permit the video poker machines that are now legal in Illinois.
Lansing ordinances, however, prohibit all forms of gambling. The village would have to amend its ordinance if any local business were to be permitted to get a state-issued license for such gambling machines.
Abbott said Tuesday a combination of a newly hired village attorney – Timothy Lapp – and a survey he sent out to 19 area businesses asking them how they would incorporate video poker machines into their services made him think that a discussion now was premature.
He told The Times after the Village Board meeting he hopes to have the discussion some time before the next scheduled Village Board meeting Oct. 16.
Charles Mabry, head of the Edward Schultz Post 697 of the American Legion, reiterated his belief the post could go out of business if it doesn't get video poker machines.
“We want you people to get this on the agenda and act on this,” Mabry said.
Joellen Kelley, owner of J.J. Kelley’s Restaurant and Pub, 2455 Bernice Road, said people should not view the existence of video poker machines as a negative.
“This is not a religious or an ethical issue,” she said. “It’s a business issue.”
Bob Malkas, a former manager of the Lansing Municipal Airport, said he sees the presence of gambling machines as an issue of “freedom.”
"If the state says they’re OK and the businesses say they’re OK, then I believe in freedom," he said. "Nobody who lives on the other side of town should be able to tell them what they can or cannot do.”
But resident John Klompmaker said he’d like to see municipal officials do studies about the economic costs of having gambling, before deciding whether to permit video poker machines.
“This has to be good for Lansing as a whole, not just the two or three or five businesses that would get machines,” he said.