ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois lawmakers passed legislation that expands gambling across the state.
The ripple effect is being felt in the Stateline as it clears the way for a casino to come to the Forest City.
If all goes according to plan, this will be part of a larger complex, which will include a hotel.
With the legislation waiting for Governor Pritzker’s signature, the next step for Rockford is to apply for a casino, but a location needs to be decided first.
Lawmakers say this will keep money here in Illinois, instead of sending people to Wisconsin or Iowa.
“The biggest thing, people like to gamble and right now they have to go elsewhere,” said Senator Steve Stadleman, (D)-34th District. “They go across Statelines. They head to other casinos. With casinos in Rockford, we can allow those people to use that entertainment here, spend their money locally and spend their services here.”
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara advocated for the casino in Springfield earlier this year. He says this will create thousands of jobs and much-needed revenue.
“We are looking at 400-600 construction jobs, union construction jobs to construct a casino,” said Mayor Tom McNamara. “We are looking at 800-1100 jobs at the casino. On top of that we are looking at four to eight million dollars of projected revenue to the city of Rockford.”
The question that remains is the location.
“The key is it got to be in a location where’s there’s easy access to attract a lot of people from the biggest areas around, so having it right there at the entrance to the city seems to make the most sense.” said Senator Dale Syverson, (R)-35th District.
One of the most talked about areas for the casino is on the patch of land where the old clock tower used to be situated by the Interstate 90 entrance.
Those against the bill worry adding a casino could lead to more gambling addictions and crime. Plus, they question how much money would stay locally.
“Will crime increase? Will there be additional social services that will be necessary? Plus, it is a big competitor with other casinos in the state, so just how much Rockford is expecting to realize? I think there’s a lot of unknowns,” said Representative Joe Sosnowski, (R)-69th District.
The bill allows cities to operate temporary casinos while the permanent one is being built.
The temporary casino could be open by the end of the year and will help train casino workers.
The governor is expected to sign this bill in the next few weeks.