CHICAGO - Wednesday, during a scheduled noon break of a House Executive Committee hearing on a proposed Chicago casino, representatives from a diverse coalition of faith-based and family values community leaders will explain why they oppose gambling expansion for Chicago and Illinois.
The legislation, SB 1739, sponsored in the House by State Rep. Robert Rita, authorizes up to a 10,000 positions at a mega- casino on Chicago’s lakefront plus four casinos statewide while creating five racinos, which turn horse tracks into casinos with large slots parlors.
Based on the mounting independent evidence that casinos are contributing to unfairness and inequality in American society, and in response to past statements from Gov. Quinn and GOP nominee Bruce Rauner, some coalition members will call upon both candidates to support binding referenda at the state and local level before gambling is drastically expanded and taxpayers are indebted $900 million to build a massive state-owned casino in Chicago.
Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner hasn't been clear on his position on gambling expansion, saying for the most part, "I don't gamble. I don't like gambling. I believe casinos and gambling is here. We should allow our local governments to decide for themselves."
And while in the past Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed a Chicago casino, he's working with Mayor Rahm Emanuel now to get a deal on a casino that he could sign into law if it got to the governor's desk.
Coalition members that oppose the gambling expansion include:
- Les Bernal, National Director, Stop Predatory Gambling
- Paul Caprio, Director, Family-PAC
- David Smith, Executive Director, Illinois Family Institute
- Nancy Duel, Arlington Heights Residents for Home Rule
- Stanley Campbell, Enough is Enough – a project of Rockford Urban Ministries Pastor Charles Straight, Faith United Methodist Church
- Pastor LaRue Kidd, True Light Church Baptist
- Pastor Marrion Johnson, Come Alive Ministry
- Pastor Don Smith, Holy Jerusalem Baptist Church
- Doug Dobmeyer, Spokesman, The Task Force to Oppose Gambling in Chicago
- Anita Bedell, Executive Director, Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems
The House Executive Committee hearing is scheduled to be held Wednesday from 9 to 11 am and 1 to 3 PM at the Bilandic Building on LaSalle Street.