Leaders, residents discuss gambling impact at Du Quoin State Fai - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Leaders, residents discuss gambling impact at Du Quoin State Fair


Illinois governor Bruce Rauner has voiced support for the expansion of gambling across the state. Leaders with the Du Quoin State Fair say they could benefit from the revenue.

Local resident Rick Degler agrees, and says the impact of an expansion would be even more widespread. 

"As far as the gambling part, as long as our community gets the credit for it, it helps our school system, it helps our roads, and businesses," Degler said on Sunday.

Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed gambling expansion based on ideology while he was in office, and although current governor Bruce Rauner says he has similar hesitations, he's said he now views the industry as one that could provide revenue which could help pay the state's deficit which exceeds six billion dollars, while avoiding raising taxes, or cutting services.

"The state is behind on paying its bills on time, and there's talk of cutting all sorts of programs," SIU Professor and Political Analyst David Yepsen said on Friday.

Fred Huff with the team preparing for the annual Du Quoin State Fair says money for the historic main attraction has declined in recent years to the point where the fair's three days of harness racing are endangered.

Huff says he thinks a gambling expansion statewide could be the answer.

"They're talking about slot machines going in to racetracks" Huff explained. "If [horse racers] don't have anything, then there's not going to be any racing."

He says he supports the idea after "seeing success stories" in places like the Du Quoin American Legion.

"It's brought in a lot of people off the street, and there always seems to be a very steady flow," American Legion bartender Stacy Kirchner said.

Residents say they hope expansion means more business interest for everyone.

"As we expand this... how about the workers at the motel?" asked Degler. "How about the maids? I mean it takes everybody to make the world go around, it's not just about me or you, it's about everybody else."

The Illinois House of Representatives plan to discuss several gambling-related bills before the session ends later this month.

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