By Stanley Campbell
I think the governor will go against his promise and sign the gambling bill, unless there is an outpouring of telephone calls.
And it appears the moneyed interests are winning, at least in the daily paper’s editorial page (though letters to the editor seem to speak against more gambling).
I would not oppose the Rockford casino so much if it would keep an eye out for the compulsive gambler. But their job is to serve the few people addicted to their product. That’s how they make their profits.
As I’ve said before, some of the smarter Native American casinos don’t allow their own tribal members to gamble. So, Rockford, you can work there, just don’t let your friends gamble.
And too bad the powers that be (State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford)) will be giving the property to some outside interests. Unless you own one, a casino is a sucker’s bet. Rockford (or some benevolent local capitalist) should own it. Keeps the money local.
And who will deal with the suffering from family members plunking all their hard-earned currency into electronic one-armed bandits? At least one out of 20 of our neighbors will be addicted if they walk into one of those places. (Right now, we have about 1,000 addicted gamblers. We’ll double or triple that number with one so close to home.)
Of course, not everyone is an addict. But the casino business is not there to entertain you. They want those who can’t control themselves, kinda like the cigarette industry. That’s the way casinos get rich: prey off the weaklings in the gene pool.
Unless Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) vetoes the latest legislation allowing five new casinos, Illinois will become a gambler’s paradise. I mean, the people who OWN one of the new casinos will enjoy the benefits. We’ll just be cleaning up the mess. And that’s why Rockford should own any casino in Winnebago County.
And let me remind you again, Winnebago County voted 75 percent to have a say in whether we get a casino. The citizens should have a referendum if they want a casino.
If Rockford is to get a casino, then let’s have access to the funds to make our community whole, and not be on the wrong side of the betting table.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the June 29-July 5, 2011 issue