Casino Debate Continues Even After Legislation Is Halted in Veto Session

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Is a riverboat casino in Rockford a development solution or a cause for concern? Even after a gaming bill was put on hold this week, the debate is still at a fever pitch.

"The redevelopment money that the city will get will help, but will cover all the costs of having a casino in the community? We say no," casino opponent Stanley Campbell said.

At a forum set up by the River District, concerned residents got answers while city and state lawmakers admitted they still have questions on how a casino could work in Rockford. Casino supporters say a casino would keep jobs and revenue in the Forest City, not elsewhere.

"Elgin had it, I've been to Clinton, Davenport and all of the rest. You've got a wonderful police department. If you need a few men on the street, I think you could get them," casino supporter Jerome Hobel said.

Those against a casino see things differently, arguing that casino supporters only see its short-term profits, not its long-term potential problems.

"They should spend more time on other ways of making Rockford an attractive place for intelligent folks to come and raise their kids, and I don't think a casino is going to do that," Campbell said.

And after the state puts a casino decision on hold, supporters hope lawmakers fight to beat the odds and bring gaming to northern Illinois.

"Rockford, they can handle anything they dish out, so I think seriously if Mayor Scott and (Senator Dave) Syverson can pull it off, more power to them," Hobel said.

It’s a power still in the hands of local lawmakers hoping to give the Rockford casino issue another spin downstate in January.