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updated: 6/20/2014 2:33 PM

Lombard keeps ban on video gambling

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  • Responding to feedback from residents, Lombard's village board has agreed to keep the town's ban on video gambling in place.

    Responding to feedback from residents, Lombard's village board has agreed to keep the town's ban on video gambling in place.
    Daily Herald file photo


Lombard's ban on video gambling won't be going away anytime soon.

Responding to feedback from residents, the village board on Thursday night decided to keep the ban, which was enacted more than four years ago.

"The issue has been put to rest," Village President Keith Giagnorio said Friday. "It has been put to rest."

Lombard Families First, a group formed to prevent the ban from being lifted, called Thursday's 5 to 1 vote a victory for the community.

"We're absolutely thrilled that the board of trustees heard and essentially gave into the will of the people," said Lori Solyom, the group's spokeswoman.

Lombard's ban has been in place since January 2010, when it opted out of Illinois' video gambling program.

In July 2009, Gov. Pat Quinn approved a $31 billion capital improvement package that allowed video gambling. Still, towns have the ability to outlaw the machines in their communities.

When Lombard put its ban in place, supporters said allowing gambling would adversely affect quality of life in the village.

But over the past year, some business owners expressed a desire to have video gambling in their establishments.

At its May 1 meeting, village board members voted 4 to 3 to direct staff to draft two proposed ordinances -- one to lift the ban and the other to establish a registration fee for gambling terminals.

The board also agreed that a final vote wouldn't happen for six weeks so trustees could do additional research.

That gave Solyom and other opponents time to organize and pressure board members leading up to Thursday's meeting.

Solyom said Lombard Families First was created after trustees Laura Fitzpatrick, Peter Breen and Dan Whittington strongly opposed lifting the ban. She said members of the group were advised to speak up about their opposition to video gambling.

"So we did," she said. "We told our neighbors, friends, co-workers, church members, and local business people that if you don't want video gambling in Lombard, you better let your trustees know."

Giagnorio said the amount of feedback he got from residents opposed to video gambling was "overwhelming." In addition to two separate petitions containing nearly 300 signatures, he said he got emails, text messages and phone calls. Some residents even went to his business to speak to him in person.

"I heard loud and clear from our residents that they didn't want it," he said.

Giagnorio said the original idea of lifting the ban was to help small businesses that want to have a few machines. But it could have paved the way for Lombard to get video gambling parlors.

"Right away, I started getting a really bad feeling," he said. "From there, everything I was hearing was negative."

According to estimates, the village could have collected about $125,000 annually if just 15 of the eligible locations in Lombard installed the maximum of five terminals allowed by the state.

But Giagnorio insists the village can maintain and grow its economy without allowing video gambling.

He said there are no plans to revisit the issue.

"It would have to take a groundswell of residents, church groups and businesses banging on my door 10 times the way I just got it on the other end for me to even think about bringing this back up," Giagnorio said.

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