Casino License Expected to Be a Hot Topic in Veto Session

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

Rockford alderman Dan Conness says it's time Illinois lawmakers roll the dice and give Rockford a casino license.

"I think this is the best chance we've had. I think there's a better than a 50-50 chance," Conness said.

Earlier this year the city council pulled the lever for support of a casino license in Rockford. Local reps from both parties also largely support a license, a fact that troubles anti-casino advocate Tom Grey.

"You've got Republican leadership in this county, and the Democratic leadership that are down and going to spend a week lobbying to say we want this without any public input. This is not Land Of Lincoln this is land of the deal," Grey said.

Conness says even if Rockford gets a license, the money generated should go towards building up the city, not paying down its debts.

"If the casino does come here to Rockford it should be used instead of revenues going into the general fund, it should be ear marked for redevelopment, and the key word there is redevelopment," Conness said.

But Grey says failed casino ventures in other Midwestern cities proves that promising growth alongside slot machines is a false and empty dream.

"I don't see any development. I don't see any hotels. I don't see any big complexes emerging, I don't see any factories coming in," Grey said.

And while city leaders feel a casino wouldn't be a cure all, they still believe the chips should be in Rockford's corner.

"Is a gaming license going to be the best way to have economic development and create jobs in our area? No. It's not, but it’s a tool that's available, and if it's available I think we should be able to use that," Conness said.

A tool that casino opponents say pushes city poverty for poker tables.

"If the best we can do is say boy, we are so bad that we need a casino to bail us out, to me that's insulting," Grey said.

A decision that remains a crapshoot entering the fall veto session.


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