Video: Ministers speak out against video gambling
9 months, 3 weeks ago by Jamie Busen
Leaders of some local churches have concerns about expansion of gambling
Some of the ministers who are members of the Quincy Minister's Fellowship took to the steps of the City Hall Plaza Thursday afternoon to make a plea to Quincy's Aldermen: No gambling expansion in our City.
The pastors spoke before members of the media. No City officials or Aldermen were present at the news conference. The City Council Monday night will hear the third and final reading of an ordinance on video gambling. The measure reverses the City's stance on City code that does not authorize, permit or license any type of gambling device.
The machines are regulated by the state and the owner gets 35 percent of the winnings, the establishment where the machines are placed gets 35 percent of the winnings and the state gets 30 percent. The State will then turn back 5 percent to the municipalities. The proceeds to the state are supposed to be dedicated to capital projects.
Tom Rains, who heads up First Southern Baptist Church, organized Thursday's event.
"Our purpose is to share once again with the public why this measure is not good for our City," he said. He said it expands gambling, diminishes the quality of life and is wrong from an economic standpoint.
Rains' letter to the media states that an independent study by several university professors including one from the University of Illinois showed that for every $1 in tax revenue a community receives from gambling, it costs taxpayers $3.
He also handed out literature that states 153 communities in Illinois have banned video poker. However, the letter from the Gaming Board administrator says "Minimal efforts have been made at this time to confirm that the following jurisdictions have banned video gaming." Some of the data also showed that it was last updated in 2009.
Rev. Rod Baker of Faith Presbyterian Church, shared with the group the effects gambling has had on his congregation. He said that when the Mark Twain Casino was built 11 years ago, their church's financial secretary began embezzling money shortly thereafter.
"A very large amount," he said. "That money went to the casino. It was money that was given to go to local charities ... it is lost and it has not come back. It's been devastating to that family and difficult for our church. It's had a negative effect on our congregation and the charities we would have supported have gone without."
Jim Perry, the owner of the Instant Replay bar, spoke before the Council on Monday night. He says gambling is already available for people who want it.
"I don't think it will do anything more than a gambling boat in LaGrange did, then the Illinois Lottery did, which is in supermarkets, gas stations, anywhere you could go. Gambling is gambling," says Perry.
Rains said they believe the citizens should be allowed to give more input before such a decision is made by the Council. He said the ministers themselves didn't find out about the ordinance until a few hours before the first reading. Rains said he was disappointed no City officials gave the pastors a heads up that this was coming before the Council.
They don't have a problem with the City Council, Rains said, but this is one instance where they aren't exactly seeing eye to eye.
"The City Council is trying to do their job. We don't have a problem with that," he said. "But we have a responsibility as well. The truth is we are normally on the same page. This is one of the very few times we aren't."
Don Heck, who is is licensed to place video gambling machines in Illinois, parked one of his company's trucks next to where the ministers were holding their news conference, but no one from the company made themselves visible to make a comment to the media members present.
Some Quincy ministers are holding a news conference today at 2 p.m. to discuss the proposed video poker ordinance that is currently before the City Council.
Aldermen are expected to hear a third and final reading of the ordinance and vote on the issue, which would put the City code in line with state law and allow video gambling machines in bars and restaurants.
WTAD News and QuincyJournal.com will have a complete report on the ministers' news conference later this afternoon.