WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Ideas for a multi-casino resort at Walker’s Bluff have been in the plans for years, but have been held up until a new gambling bill is passed that would allow it.
Now, local leaders from around the region are starting to fight to get the bill passed.
On Tuesday, Oct. 17, a House Gambling Subcommittee held a hearing to listen to advocates for the bill.
CEO of Mantracon, Kathy Lively, was among those who pushed for the passing of the bill, saying it could be a job and economy booster in southern Illinois.
“Our region is in transition from an economy dependent on coal mining to one that embraces multiple sectors,” she said, “The unemployment rate in southern Illinois historically lags behind the state and national rates.”
State Representative Dave Severin was also at the meeting and supports the casino resort project.
He said that there was a lot of back and forth, and opponents of the casino resort fought it saying that gambling often causes personal problems and a casino might not be the answer to southern Illinois money problems.
Now, he’s requested to be on the subcommittee that would push it to lawmakers in Springfield.
“1,250 construction jobs you’re looking at,” Severin said, “possibly 750 to 800 permanent jobs. So it’s a great opportunity for southern Illinois.”
Although, he said it’s going to be a long time before this bill gets passed and construction begins, but overall will be worthwhile to the region.
“Here’s the challenge. It’s that it’s not requesting for one casino, but actually for five. What’s happened also, is that several other gambling and casino types have jumped on, so it went from a bill this size to now this big," he said spreading his arms for emphasis.
The next subcommittee hearing on the bill will be in November.