Group Tries to Sink the Mayor's Riverboat Plans

By: Joe Hamilton
By: Joe Hamilton

The city of Rockford is betting on a riverboat casino to help reduce the city's budget deficit. Rockford is one of four communities in the state that is bidding for the last casino license, but some people in the area think that the price of bringing a casino here is just too high.

Mayor Scott doesn't see bringing a riverboat casino to Rockford as a gamble, but rather an economic jackpot that will provide the city with an added source of revenue. Critics however suggest that we're rolling the dice with crime and addictions that are usually associated with gambling. So they are doing what they can to make sure that the mayor loses this bet.

As people wager at an off track betting facility in Rockford they see no reason why the city shouldn't pursue a riverboat casino here.

"It's legal, it's fun, it's exciting," said Alice Nilsen.

And that's why the mayor says he wants to bring a casino to Rockford, it will not only help tourism, but also the economy.

"It's no secret to why Elgin and Aurora are doing well during hard economic times. It because of the large infusion of cash from the riverboats," said Rockford mayor Doug Scott.

But opponents feel that it's wrong for the city to make money off an addiction that will increase while a riverboat is anchored in Rockford. That's why they are spearheading a campaign on Tuesday to try and bankrupt the mayor's goal for a casino.

"If you have a license to gamble you are going to be making a lot of money of people who are suffering from a very serious disease but you are going to be making a lot of money," said Stanley Campbell, Director of Rockford Urban Ministries.

And this has some residents worried.

"If the decision to bring a casino here is about revenue. Then the mayor is sending a strong message to people that he doesn't' care about the people, just money," said Bedro Arias, opposed to casinos.

But the mayor disagrees.

"The reality is that the problems are already here. We already have legal ways for people to gamble here. We have the problems, but none of the revenue," said Scott.

The mayor says that he is going to play his hand to try and bring a casino here. But there are rumors that Chicago may be also bid for the state's last casino license. If they do he says, no matter what cards he has, Chicago will probably force everyone else to fold.


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