The Rockford Casino Coalition was formed in support for the gaming expansion bill (SB 0744) and encourages Governor Pat Quinn to sign the bill. The expansion would help communities an local governments to increase the generation of revenue and create significant economic development opportunities in Illinois and the Rockford area. The creation of new Illinois casinos and gaming facilities would generate an estimated $1.5 billion in up-front fees and $500 million in recurring annual funds for the state. This additional revenue would allow the state to meet its General Fund obligations.
Now, approved by both the Illinois House and Senate, Senate Bill 0744 expands gaming throughout the state and would bring new casinos in Chicago, the northern suburbs and Rockford. Along with the new casinos, horse tracks will be allowed to install slot machines. Additionally, the new construction and operational positions within the actual casino and throughout the local hospitality and tourism industries would significantly boost job creation in Rockford.
Partners of the coalition include the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, the Rockford Chamber of Commerce and several labor unions and contractor associations. The Coalition’s founding partners represent more than 1,500 organizations and their 60,000 employees. During the advocacy campaign, the Rockford Casino Coalition is urging area businesses, organizations and individuals to join the coalition by signing the online petition stating support of SB 0744.
Casino gaming was first introduced in Illinois in February of 1990 with the intention of providing economic relief and development resources to Illinois’ economically depressed river cities. Since then, cities like Alton, Elgin, Joliet and Aurora have all invested and leveraged casino revenue to grow their economies. And, today, they are each doing better economically than Rockford.
“Our coalition aims to speak with a clear, consistent voice. The Rockford region knows far too well the economic realities left behind in the wake of recent recessions. We see a Rockford casino as one element, a tool in our economic toolkit, that we can us to create jobs and grow our region’s economy,” said John Groh, president & CEO of the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and a member of the coalition.