Gambling Failure in Springfield Keeps the Door Open in Beloit

BELOIT, Wisc.--The full scale plans unveiled more than a year ago would dwarf anything that lawmakers in Springfield could come up with.

"There will be a full convention center, a hotel, a theatre," according to Larry Arft, City Manager for Beloit. "There will be retail shopping facilities, there will be all the service establishments, restaurants, etc."

The $200 million dollar proposal is half way thru the approval process in hopes of having shovels in the ground next year. Arft spoke to Eyewitness News on the day he was to attend a groundbreaking for a multi-million dollar school proposal in Beloit.

It's a sign that the city north of the stateline is trying to be proactive in seizing economic success.

"The state will gain substantial revenue if this casino is built," Arft said. "There's also direct revenue sharing with the city of Beloit as the host community, and with Rock County as the host county."

But no guaranteed revenue for any of the communities south of the border and that has Senator Dave Syverson worried.

"We have 5 states that have declared war on Illinois," said Syverson. "We have 5 states that are building massive casinos right on the Illinois borders to take Illinois residents to them."

Plus, Arft says the facility sitting on 71 acres right along I-90/39 at the boder could create nearly 2,000 jobs. Arft says the sprawling commercialism could create business opportunities in South Beloit along Illinois 75. Syverson says that is wishful thinking with an enclosed complex.

"When people go to a Casino, they're going to have their hotels, their restaurants and their waterparks, and everything right on campus."

Wisconsin's attempt to capitalize on Springfield's woes is no surprise to Syverson.

"The only way to help a state's overall economy is to bring out of state revenue in, not churning the same revenue inside the state," said Syverson.

"I don't blame them, it's a smart move."

"How do you compete with a massive Indian Casino? That doesn't pay taxes, that has convention centers and water parks...You can't compete with that," Syverson said.

"So it really is down to who gets there first."

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