By Stanley Campbell
We thank god that no vote was taken on Illinois Senate Bill 737, the massive expansion of gambling that went before the Illinois House just two weeks ago. All bills that did not pass by the deadline can no longer be called for a vote. But it’s a sure bet the pro-gamblers will try again this year (right, Dave Syverson?).
Rockford Urban Ministries (RUM) thanks all of you for your prayers and persistence in making phone calls to legislators and the governor, writing letters to the editor and for everything you did. It was a miracle, you know. It always is when the rich can’t take advantage of the poor.
I asked Anita Bedell of the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems (ILCAAAP) why it did not pass. She has been the lone lobbyist fighting gambling interests in the state for the last 15 years. She said:
“We give God the honor and glory for the victory. The bill (which had passed the Illinois Senate with the support of our own state Sen. Dave Syverson (R) just kept getting bigger to satisfy all gambling interests—horsemen, racetracks, existing casinos, video gambling interests, 10th casino license, wannabe casino interests. Governor Quinn raised concerns about the bill being too ‘top heavy.’ After a very long extended session, Speaker Madigan adjourned at 9:10 p.m. on the last day to pass legislation, and the gambling bill could no longer be called for a vote.”
Gambling proponents have already said they will work to get a gambling expansion bill passed in the spring legislative session. (Our own Sen. Syverson will again ask for a Rockford casino.) The people in Rockford must be persistent in their opposition to a casino and not give up or give in.
One of the activists in our network sent me the following quote yesterday:
“If you are a true believer, if the rationale for your political participation lies beyond mere self-aggrandizement, you know that there are no such things as lost causes, just battles not yet won.”—David Wilhelm, 2002
ILCAAAP has been working to oppose the expansion of gambling in Illinois since 1992. Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” We pray that others in Rockford will be strengthened to join in the efforts to oppose more gambling. God bless you, Anita Bedell.
A new General Assembly has been sworn in, so we ask for and count on your continued help in this effort to prevent more harm to the families and communities in Illinois. For more information, contact Anita Bedell, executive director of ILCAAAP, at 1132 W. Jefferson, Springfield, IL 62702; via phone at (217) 546-6871; or online at ilcaaap.org.
To sign up locally for the next round, contact RUM at (815) 964-7111 or call the Rev. John Alan Boryk at (847) 376-8779.
It will be a miracle if we keep the gambling interests away.
The Illinois General Assembly won’t be back in session until Feb. 1, but state Rep. Lou Lang has already introduced legislation to expand gambling—H.B. 36, H.B. 37 and H.B. 38.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.