Casino Discussion Goes Grassroots at Rockford Restaurant

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The fall veto session came and went without a decision on a possible Rockford Riverboat Casino. However, the gaming issue is anything but dead.

Thursday night, area libertarians weighed in on the issue, with one of the area's most outspoken casino critics.

Area lawmakers are expected to discuss the Rockford Riverboat Casino issue this spring in Springfield. However, it's unlikely the issue will be on a balloted referendum, so individual groups are carrying out the discussions on their own.

National anti-casino advocate Tom Grey led an informal discussion with 20 Libertarians.

The party's members say they were mixed going in, not opposed to gambling, but opposed to the government dictating where gaming can be located.

Grey argued a Rockford casino would only bring in more government, in the form of police and social services.

After a question and answer, the libertarians voted 15 to 1 against a casino. Both Grey and the group enjoyed hearing out both sides.

"The best thing is to get the community discussion available, whatever you want to bring to the table its great to get it out. So whatever we discuss will add to the discussion of the community," Rockford Libertarian Chairman John Huwe says.

"Libertarians obviously have thought through their positions and I think this is really an issue of should government bring an addictive product to the community?" Grey says.

On Dec. 16, Rockford’s River District will host its second public forum on the Riverboat Casino.

In November, area lawmakers discussed why they are in favor of a casino.

This month's meeting will give the floor to the casino opponents.