By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
As usual, when the Rockford Park District wants to delineate policy they have the good sense to ask the citizens that use their facilities for their preferences.
“The board directed us to do on-line and on-site surveys regarding the video gaming issue, and we asked three questions,” RPD Executive Director Tim Dimke said.
“First, should we or should we not offer video gaming at various sites. Those sites were our new downtown center, SportsCore II, Ingersoll, Sandy Hollow, and Elliott golf courses.
“The respondents were actual users of the facilities, not the general public.
“The response from the five sites averaged 30 percent for and 70 percent against video gaming.
“Secondly, we asked if we should offer it anywhere within the Park District system and the response was about the same.
“The third really tough question we asked was, if we have to raise fees and decrease maintenance would you then agree to having video gaming. Then the average response was 40 percent for it and 60 percent against it, except at one facility. At SportsCore II, it was 43 percent against and 44 percent for it, with 17 percent with having no opinion.
“This helped the board dial in on this question, and the board saw it was not enough to do it.
“The board did consider the question because it was not as if there was no video gaming in the area. So despite all the controversial media reports, the lesson learned here is looking at data and our residents wishes.
“We based our decision to consider it on county norms. In 2014, $500 million was spent on video gaming and $30 million was lost by players in those three cities – Rockford, Loves Park and Machesney Park.
“Our public spoke pretty loudly and the board listened and said, ‘No,’” Dimke concluded.