Local leaders mixed on gaming expansion bill

Published: Nov. 7, 2018 at 6:48 PM CST
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There has been recent talk about the vacancy left by the clock tower and if a casino will take its place. In the past, efforts in support of a casino have not been fruitful.

Now, there is an Illinois gaming expansion bill or Bill SB0007. Many local leaders in Rockford are in support for the bill.

Lawmakers in Rockford urge for a casino because they believe it will stimulate the community by attracting outsiders, creating jobs and igniting new development projects.

“It won't solve the state’s budget problems, it won't solve the city of Rockford budget problems but it will mean several million dollars in additional revenue that I think could be a shot in the arm for the area," says Illinois State Senator Steve Stadelman.

Not only will a casino ignite growth in the Rockford area but it is predicted to stop money going to surrounding states.

"The reality is what's happening is last year, a little over 1.5 billion dollars left Illinois and went to the five surrounding states where they are building casinos right on the borders," says Illinois State Senator Dave Syverson.

And while a Casino will increase local revenue without raising taxes, there are some in opposition.

The Illinois Gaming Association thinks the state will lose money if the bill is passed. It says the casino market is already saturated and communities like Rockford should focus on sports betting, internet gaming and fantasy sports.

“Rockford is kind of in a unique position, because they have the second largest member video gaming terminals in the state, building a casino will absolutely reduce the revenue that they're making for video gaming," says Tom Swoik the executive director of the Illinois Gaming Association.

Swoik insist that Rockford is just not the market for a casino.