Opponents of gambling expansion in rural McLean County were few, but vocal as the County Board approved ordinance changes to allow video poker machines that pay off. Board Member Chuck Erickson of Bloomington says he has seen the social consequences of gambling in his 17 year legal practice.
"Someone always ends up paying the debt of those who have incurred huge debts from gambling. It doesn't magically disappear. Landlords who lose rent payments, banks who lose mortgage payments all pass those costs on to someone."
Erickson also says the county justice system bears the cost of trying to rehabilitate problem gamblers who have defaulted on their obligations, while the revenue from gambling goes elsewhere. Don Cavallini of Lexington calls it a major gambling expansion in the state.
"Step by step, insidiously, gambling keeps encroaching. How many total video games or machines, poker games, whatever you call them, will be added to the state of Illinois? I suggest that if this really takes off, you can argue about a casino here or there, that's going to be a minuscule thing."
"I'm probably the only one in the room that has been to every pub in the county (fact finding, though right?) Fact Finding!
But, county board member Stan Hoselton of Chenoa says to call it gambling expansion is a frivolous argument because says state limits on the number of machines may actually reduce the existing scope of playing on more machines.
"I think on occasion, if a guy wins a hundred points and he handles it right he could probably get paid off for those hundred points. Tongue in cheek, I mean that's hearsay."
Other supporters say they do not want to penalize rural bars, by not going along. Board Chairman Matt Sorenson's example is in LeRoy.
"Failure on the part of the county board to amend our ordinance would have truly created a competitive business advantage for establishments within the city that are blocks away from our liquor license holders in the rural areas of the county."
Board member Scott Black of Bloomington says people know the house always wins and if they play, that is their choice.
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