NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
N G I S C Chicago Meeting, May 20, 1998
ANITA BEDELL, ILLINOIS CHURCH ACTION ON ALCOHOL PROBLEMS
MS. BEDELL: My name is Anita Bedell, the executive director of ILCAAP. I'd just like you to note that riverboat gambling was legalized in Illinois without a vote of the people. As citizens throughout the state discovered, that many of their own city council members and developers were asking to have riverboats come into their own communities on their own initiative. They formed groups and they put advisory referendums on the ballot so that they could have a voice in this process. If you look through the packet, there is a list of citizen referendums that were put on the ballot and the results.
Many elected officials in Illinois, as they left office, became lobbyists for gambling interests, also in your packet that is attached. These officials first worked to secure riverboat licenses. Later on they worked to change the riverboat gambling act. They wanted land based casinos; they wanted Chicago riverboats; they wanted dockside gambling, splitting and moving licenses. All the time that this legislation was being proposed it was to level the playing field and to compete with other states. This was the reason the legislators used.
ILCAAP, in 1995, started working with all these other groups. We became the statewide coordinator. We asked for a statewide referendum on the issue, asked if there could be a vote of the people before gambling was expanded in Illinois. This legislation was not passed. In fact, at the end there was an effort to attach dockside gambling to the bill.
In 1996, there was a legislative gambling study task force that was put together as a way to stop a statewide referendum because it was gaining momentum from the people. Their report is attached also. It is just a summary report. There were no recommendations. Unlike this committee there was no research. Basically they heard from people who had done studies, people who were opposed to gambling and the other two days they heard from people who wanted to expand gambling in various forms.
There are deals that are made behind closed doors in Illinois. Last year two bills were passed. There were shell bills. They have gone into conference committee twice. They have been put together in the back room and come out at the very end of the session. Legislators are asked to vote on these bills without reading them. Their leaders are telling them what is in them and then they are asked for a vote.
One thing that is driving this I believe is greed. Campaign contributions have exceeded or have gone up to the same interest as the American Medical Association in Illinois. In 1990, $50,000 was given to political candidates in Illinois. In 1994, it was over $1 million and it has stayed at that rate. We believe that legislators are trying to put gambling only as a revenue source. They look at it as a source of revenue. They do not want to raise taxes because they will not get re-elected, so they look at the tax and they do not look at the social cost. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: About how much time is remaining? Two minutes.