MARK KIESLING: Lansing casino question needs public input

2012-06-11T00:00:00Z MARK KIESLING: Lansing casino question needs public input nwitimes.com
June 11, 2012 12:00 am

South suburbia has the gambling fever. And it is catching like the plague.

Lansing officials at a meeting Tuesday plan to consider a proposal to allow legalized gambling.

As of now, Lansing ordinance forbids any form of gambling within the village, although lottery tickets are sold there because Illinois law trumps the village ordinance.

Let me make it clear: I am not a big gambling fan but I play the lottery on occasion, and when I go to Las Vegas, I take a certain amount of money to lose as a form of entertainment.

It is one heck of a lot cheaper than Disney World, which I also like although I did get into an altercation with Tweedledee (or was it Tweedledum?) when he ignored my daughter because he couldn't see her through his costume.

But I digress.

Frankly, Lansing is merely considering an alteration of its ordinance code to allow video poker machines in bars.

Yeah, like none already exist. Wink, wink!

One of my good friends was a late Hammond cop who owned a bar with his girlfriend. He said his profit margin was so slim that he could not make it without the poker machines.

What's the holdup? Is it a moral issue? If so, it is beyond time to 86 this thing. The morality of the few should not dictate the will of the majority.

An exception I will gladly concede is South Holland, which has had blue laws in effect for decades, and the people like it that way. You like it, you get it.

I am not about forcing gambling or liquor sales into a community that does not want it, although I know more than a few Dutch folks in the Community of Churches who have basement bars and Sunday cocktails.

So where are we on the gambling issue? My suggestion, as humble as it is (not much!), is to put it to a referendum.

I am not in favor of putting every issue to a poll or referendum, but this is serious. At stake are major road construction projects, for example.

Lansing Village President Norm Abbott said the situation need to be confronted, but if passed it would bring in only a "small token of funds."

Look at the big picture, though, Mr. Abbott. This will bring in funds, regardless of size, you do not have now.

And it will encourage businesses to remain in Lansing rather than move somewhere such as Glenwood or Calumet City, which allow for this pastime.

A number of Lansing clergy oppose gambling, seeing it as immoral. Although I don't agree, I respect their opinion as I hope they respect mine.

But we cannot allow public policy to be dictated by the churches. That's the way it works in Europe, and look online at church attendance there.

You have more people in Monte Carlo for a weekend than at Mass.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

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