NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
N G I S C Chicago Meeting, May 20, 1998
MR. JOHN ALAN BORYK
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Mr. John Alan Boryk.
MR. BORYK: I live in Belvidere, Illinois which is near Rockford, 70 miles west of here. I'm a United Methodist pastor called to serve the wider community who does not take his citizenship lightly. I also believe in our social principles which state that gambling is a menace to society, among other things.
I'd like to speak to you about the work of dedicated volunteers. In the fall of 1991 it came to the attention of the community that a bill to expand gambling sponsored by our state representative lost by only six votes in the Illinois legislature. Years earlier the state lottery had been adopted largely on the strength of senior representative E.J. Georgey which garnered him the title Father of the Lottery.
The lottery was created on the perceived hope that the profits would bail out our troubled public schools. Few opposed the lottery. The lottery is alive, though not growing and our schools are still in trouble. So when we learned that Representative Georgey had sponsored a bill to allow three video lottery devices in every establishment that served liquor by the drink, potentially bringing a casino into ever neighborhood, we were alarmed. Our bishop came to Rockford to discuss the merits of such an endeavor with the representative. The heated discussion resulted in headlines, stating that Mr. Georgey called our bishop, quote, "an agent of the underworld," unquote.
It got the attention of a number of people and a group called Enough is Enough was formed. This group, under the guidance of people such as Bob Holland who died recently, has met since that time to learn about gambling. That December, Representative Georgey and I were on a radio talk show discussing the merits of the video lottery. A caller mentioned the mesmerizing fascination the video games have on children. Mr. Georgey acknowledged this, formed from his own grandchildren's behavior, but video lottery games were introduced again but Representative Georgey did not sign on as a sponsor. We came to respect each other and grew in our understanding and our differences.
We had other situations in which we noticed that there would be a fly-in around the state. We were there to greet the people respectively, to say there's another side to the proposed casino for Chicago. Over the years I've learned much about this issue that I cared little about formerly. I've seen its destructive forces as I've talked with parishioners who became addicted through easy access to a nearby gambling boat.
It's a puzzlement to me that an activity like gambling, that once was declared illegal by governments, moved to being regulated by governments and now is promoted by governments. As a result a select few have become wealthy or millionaires. Education has not improved its promise and there's an increase in compulsive addictive gamblers. Thank you.