Say NO to Rockford casino

Isn’t there anyone organizing an opposition to the proposed Rockford casino? Does everyone in Rockford actually think this is a good idea? Or are our religious leaders and economic watchdogs on hiatus, or feeling helpless for some reason?

In no way can a casino ever actually benefit a community like Rockford. Bottom-line fact is that easy access gambling feeds every addict and would-be addict in the community, and destroys hundreds of families. Or are we so community-minded that part of the reason to support the casino is the creation of Gamblers Anonymous groups, which will pay rent and create counseling jobs? Aside from the obvious drug and money-laundering opportunities a casino will provide, what real value does it propose to an ailing community? The state Legislature has set a seriously damaging precedent by suggesting that casino licenses only be granted in “depressed communities.”

While Rockford is losing jobs left and right, companies moving to San Juan, Nashville, and other points unknown, what message are we sending by giving folks a way to spend their unemployment checks in futile hopes of double or nothing going their way? The wrong one.

Anyone who would take money from the construction of a casino, or work at it, needs to seriously consider their moral obligations to this area. Your mother and grandmother will go to this casino, and blow their entire savings. Your buddy will gamble away his mortgage money and have to hock his Harley. Your sister’s husband will blow his brains out after losing everything at blackjack rather than face his kids a loser. These are the realities of gambling; it’s not all fun and games.

Even though the groundwork has been laid with the recent boom of fast-cash loan stores—there is no reason to walk the rest of the path. Say NO to feeding the loan sharks with this new misguided proposal.

We already sell plenty of other legal ways to ruin your life and/or kill yourself; we don’t need another one. Besides, this town has so many better ways to spend $100. How will the creation of a casino affect the downtown theaters and restaurants? If you think it will boost business, you’re wrong. Casinos give away complimentary hotel rooms and comp meals to players to entice them to return. That keeps them inside the casino, not roaming around downtown looking for a good meal. Plus, after losing $75-$100 at the casino, a night at the theater or IceHogs game isn’t in the budget.

Rather than spending dollars to create a new nightmare, why not invest in the future of our economy by providing more education for displaced workers, more college scholarships and incentives for students to stay in the area after high school, and better academics in our public schools?

Let the addicts in our midst fight their demons with the tools already at their disposal…don’t make their fight more difficult. Save our families and say NO to the casino mafia.

Even though folks might drive to town to patronize our casino, and surely they will make a fortune that may or may not be filtered back in to the community, it will be someone else’s grandmother without enough cash left to pay for nursing care, from some other town. Does it matter? Rockford is not an island…our responsibility is to be the leaders in northern Illinois, leaders to a brighter tomorrow, not into societal decay.

Even if it is just my lonely voice, I cry out to our leaders to wake up and learn the “rest of the story” about gambling and look beyond the promise of financial benefit, look at the hand-in-hand guarantee of lives destroyed. Build Rockford up, show your constituents that you want what’s best for them and their families, not just what will be glitzy on the river and pay for more road construction.

Say NO.

Michelle Skolaski is owner of In Flight Productions and the new Dot Rocket Media Training Center in Rockford.

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