Lawmakers discuss potential casino in Williamson Co. - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Lawmakers discuss potential casino in Williamson Co.

(Source: Loreto Cruz KFVS) (Source: Loreto Cruz KFVS)
CARTERVILLE, IL (KFVS) - Operators of Walkers Bluff Winery near Carterville are fighting to be chosen as a location for a casino which would welcome more than 400 jobs to the area.

Two days before the end of the current legislative session, expansion of statewide gambling operations were brought up in Springfield. The latest bill discusses two downstate casinos opening up. One possibly at Walker's Bluff, and another at an location in Decatur that is yet to be decided upon.

Walker's Bluff Chief Operations Officer David Fenech said the business hired a lobbyist to vie for them in Springfield as a location.

Fenech said the casino would be part of a much larger project, which would potentially open the door to a variety of new venues.

“An entertainment center, a convention center, shops, possibly bringing in spas” Fenech said on Thursday, “Jobs are created in those other industries that now see this as a place where there are people coming in, and bringing in commerce.”

Carterville Resident Brent Vanham responded by saying he's on-board with the idea of local job creation.

“If the revenue stream is there,” Vanham said, “then it's a worthwhile deal, especially if the money comes back into the community.”

“I don't think it would hurt at all.” said fellow resident Don Scott, “More jobs, more money, more spent in local stores and businesses. I think it would be good.”

Vanham also mentioned that he had some concerns with the idea.

“Casinos and gambling are sometimes seen as a tax on the poor,” Vanham said, “because some people gamble and have a little trouble with it, and gamble beyond their means.”

Williamson County officials said on Thursday on the phone they earn 5 percent on all gaming royalties, which in 2014 earned them more than $55,000 from Video Gaming machines alone.

Roughly half of the sum was donated to Volunteer Organization “Court Appointed Special Advocates” which is an organization who seeks help for abused and neglected children.

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