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Illinois Gaming Opponents Protest Video Poker Legalization

Friday, May 29, 2009

ILLINOIS - As reported by The Regional News: "Making mini casinos in bars and restaurants and clubs throughout the state is no way to fund new school buildings.'

Video poker machines could
  be flooding the nearest neighborhood taverns after the Illinois General Assembly voted to legalize them last week. However, that has not stopped concerned citizens from voicing their protest against the expansion of gambling in Illinois.

The state House and Senate approved last week a multi-billion dollar construction package that would be paid for by the legalization of video poker, the expansion of the lottery, higher liquor taxes and the application of sales tax on items such as candy and non-carbonated beverages. It is has not been signed into law yet by Gov. Pat Quinn. The bill is expected to generate more than $1 billion a year. Video poker machines are expected to bring in $375 million a year and a program that would allow lottery wagering over the Internet would generate about $150 million.

The measure, which would le- galize video poker in bars, restaurants, veterans halls and trucks stops, was passed 47-12 in the Senate and 86-30 in the House.

But that did not keep anti-gambling organizations from protesting the bill in front of the office of Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) in Lemont last Thursday morning. Radogno sponsored the bill that will provide the state with its first comprehensive construction package since 1999.

Beth Paschall, of Palos Heights, representing the Anti-Gambling Task Force of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, led the gathering in front of Sen. Radogno's office that condemned the legalization of video poker machines. Along with Tom Grey, the field director for the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling and the website Stop Predatory Gambling, about a dozen people held up signs to passing motorists and discussed the negatives that will come with the legalization of video poker.

"We've never been threatened as much as I feel we are today," said Paschall, who has fought against legalized gambling for more than 30 years. "Making mini casinos in bars and restaurants and clubs throughout the state is no way to fund new school buildings..."

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