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Rethink wisdom of expanded gambling
Letter to the Editor
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Published: 12/28/2007 12:07 AM

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I recently attended the Union League Club of Chicago Public Affairs Forum on gaming expansion. So I read with interest your stories on Gov. Blagojevich's campaign finance chair/gambling adviser Christopher Kelly indicted on federal tax charges. The indictment included allegations that Kelly used company money to pay gambling debts to Las Vegas casinos and Chicago-area bookies.

After listening to the president of the Chicago Crime Commission and two prominent ministers, I left that debate questioning whether pending gambling expansion legislation as a revenue source was a losing bet. Now, with Gov. Blagojevich's gaming point man accused of illegal bets, the Chicago Crime Commission's analysis looked clairvoyant.

Even though the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce believes "if done properly" casino gambling might spur tourism, I wonder whether Illinois government or the city of Chicago can be trusted to operate a gambling empire?

Recently, several stories about gambling or organized crime were in Chicago's newspapers. They stemmed from Burr Ridge, Oak Brook, Hinsdale and Naperville -- all in my affluent, well-educated state Senate district area.

While gambling disproportionately affects people with low incomes, minorities, and our riverboats drain senior citizens of nickels and quarters, these events prove no community is immune from embezzlement or illegal activity. The societal and governmental costs of gambling are enormous.

Over the holiday season, the General Assembly needs to look deep inside and rethink gambling as a source of revenue. Should we put the "Land of Lincoln" in a position to be the most gambling-addicted state in America -- raking in more cash than even Nevada from gaming?

State Sen. Kirk W. Dillard