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Wednesday, June 3, 2009 08:48 am

Quinn must stop video poker gambling in Illinois

art6000

Often it is said that the gambling question in Illinois has already been decided, so let’s get on with it. Well, not quite!

What was decided in 1989 was to have 10 casinos, not video poker on every corner or a casino in Chicago. In the spring of 2009 the legislature decided to have video poker in bars, restaurants and fraternal organization throughout the state and Chicago. This potentially sets up a casino for the city within a couple of years.

The only person that now stands between full-fledged harmful gambling in the state is the self-proclaimed reform governor of the state, Pat Quinn. I’ve known and worked with Pat for 25 years. He’s always stood for the protection of people against negative forces.

But today the Pat Quinn I and others knew is different. He now may stand with the gamblers and against the people of the state. He proclaimed he is “open” to more gambling for the state to fund a capital bill. He made the switch after only consulting legislators and other interests in favor of more gambling.

Last week it was disclosed he was “shocked” that his campaign staff had offered face to face meetings between himself and organizations for $15,000. Our Task Force requested a meeting to discuss gambling expansion prior to the legislature passing a bill but was rebuffed. We were neither offered a meeting for $15,000, nor did we offer to have one with him at that price.

Somehow this Democratic governor along with a Democratic majority in the legislature has the idea that video poker is not a tax and the people targeted are so inept as to accept and be happy about slots in bars. Perhaps some of the people that will be losers with video poker do not consider their loss of money will harm their families.

The role of government is to protect citizens from harm, not to add to the harm. Government today seems to be so addled they cannot see the harm they are bringing to society.

The bill designates the Illinois Gaming Board to enforce the act and protect the citizens of the state. Board chair Aaron Jaffe called that process a joke. And he is right. The Gaming Board would need 50 new inspectors just to make sure the paperwork is in order. So much for the protection of our citizens.

Let’s hope Gov. Quinn will think about the harm that will come to people and perform an amendatory veto on HB255 to protect Illinois’ citizens. Without this action, he alone will bear the responsibility for the harm that will come to Illinois.

Doug Dobmeyer is the spokesperson for the Task Force to Oppose Gambling in Chicago. For the past 38 years he has been an advocate and lobbyist on behalf of low-income citizens in Illinois.

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