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posted: 5/2/2014 5:30 AM

No decision yet on Lombard video gambling ban

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After a lengthy discussion Thursday night, the Lombard village board requested an ordinance be drafted that would repeal the village's ban on video gambling.

The board will likely discuss video gambling again and vote on the ordinance at a June 19 meeting.

It's clear, however, that it will be a tough measure to pass.

Trustees Laura Fitzpatrick and Peter Breen voiced multiple reasons for their strong opposition to lifting the ban.

"I don't think our residents are interested in that type of lifestyle," Fitzpatrick said, adding that the village is doing well enough financially that it shouldn't need to "resort to some other means of income like these gambling machines."

Village Manager Scott Niehaus said there are estimates that the village could collect about $125,000 annually if just 15 of the eligible locations in Lombard installed the maximum of five terminals allowed by the state.

If those businesses only installed three terminals each, the amount would go down to about $75,000 in revenue.

Villa Park Trustee Robert Taglia came to the meeting to tell the board to think carefully about whether or not video gambling is worth it.

He said as of January, the village of Villa Park had only collected about $11,000 from video gambling machines.

Five residents from Lombard and Villa Park spoke out against video gaming in front of the crowded room.

Still, three business owners and the governor of the Lombard Moose Lodge expressed their desire to have video gaming in their establishments.

"I think it will be wonderful," said Dawn Capone, owner of Capone's Restaurant and Pizzeria. "We have a lot of customers who ask all the time for it. I don't think it's going to make bad people come to Lombard. I think if it's here they'll spend more money in our business."

Trustee Dan Whittington said he would like to poll residents to gather more public opinion on the issue.

But Trustee Bill Ware, who requested to have the issue brought up at a village board meeting, said he felt there has already been enough discussion.

"We have to put our businesses on an even playing field," he said. "Keep in mind, this additional revenue that businesses might get means money put back into the business."

Fitzpatrick also noted that a poll was done four years ago when the board decided to ban video gambling and about 52 percent said they did not want the devices in town.

Village President Keith Giagnorio and trustees Reid Foltyniewicz and Mike Fugiel said they were supportive of allowing video gambling into town.

"I'm really not at all interested in how much money the village can generate from this," Fugiel said. "I'm more concerned about our business owners who have struggled over the last several years and this is an opportunity that may provide some potential relief."

As a small-business owner himself, Giagnorio said he sympathized with other business owners who are trying to make it in a tough economy.

"This is choice for businesses to make. This isn't a mandate," he said of allowing video gambling. "This is just to give businesses a choice."

He added, however, that if the ban were lifted he would like to revisit the issue in a year to review how much revenue the gambling is creating and if it causes any increase in crime.

The board voted 4-3 to have an ordinance drafted that would lift the ban. Fitzpatrick, Breen and Whittington voted no.

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