CARTERVILLE, IL (KFVS) - Could a casino be the answer to southern Illinois' economy?
One business thinks so.
More than 100 residents are headed to Springfield on November 15 in support of Walker's Bluff getting a gaming license.
The Carterville business prides itself on wine, hospitality and fine dining.
Soon they're hoping to add gambling to that list.
"The support for this has been overwhelming," said Emily Burke, community relations manager for Walker's Bluff.
Burke said this is a unique opportunity.
"We understand that this is not just about Walker's Bluff, but about a lot of the hopes that people have,"
She said bringing gaming to the region will boost the economy.
"Having so many people come to town would increase the revenue, because obviously they want to go shopping someplace else and they want to go to different restaurants, and see the historical parts of southern Illinois," Burke said.
Many southern Illinois business leaders agree and are helping Walker's Bluff in their fight.
Including Southern Illinois Health, Pepsi and Southern Illinois University.
While many believe that a casino is just what southern Illinois needs others say it's a gamble that might not pay off.
"I don't think gambling is a good idea. I don't think it brings out the highest and best in people, and also it tends to prey on people who really have the most to lose," said southern Illinois resident Elaine Ramseyer.
"We understand the reservations that people have about this, but Walker's Bluff would be a great steward of this gaming license, and they have to understand that we need to develop the private sector of the economy," Burke said.
According to an analysis by The Innovation Group last spring, the casino could bring around $14 million a year to the region and more 700 jobs.
"I think the way that you build it is by starting small businesses. The vineyards, the apples, the peaches, the festivals, the music scene. That's how you build The Southern Illinois economy and I'm totally for that, but I don't think gambling is the way to go about it," Ramseyer said.
"This is about the way that southern Illinois responds to good opportunities that come up, and this is a perfect opportunity for our leaders to recognize it, and create a pathway towards success," Burke said.
Two busses are headed to Springfield, Illinois with southern Illinois residents ready to see a casino in the region and hope legislators feel the same way.