Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My View: Time to the put the brakes on gaming expansion - Opinion - Rockford Register Star - Rockford, IL


  • My View: Time to the put the brakes on gaming expansion

    Tom Swoik is executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association.



    • Posted Oct. 18, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

      It has been two years since the first legal video slot machines were installed in Illinois. In just 24 months more than 18,000 slot machines have been installed at more than 4,700 locations. As a result of this growth, Illinois now has double the locations licensed to conduct gaming than Nevada.
      While the video gaming industry wants to proclaim success, we should not gloss over the challenges caused by this explosion of gaming. As with any law, a number of entrepreneurs have taken advantage of loopholes that allow slot machines in “casino cafes” in strip malls, laundromats and gas stations. At these locations, important rules that prevent compulsive gamblers from playing the slots are impossible to enforce.
      Gaming at these large chains of casino cafes as well as some of the other locations was not the intent of video gaming. As officials weigh reasonable regulations to reign in the excesses of the law, they should also rule out further gaming expansion.
      State tax revenues generated by neighborhood slots are going to pay for things already built under the 2009 capital program. While the video gaming industry touts the tax revenue the state is receiving, they want you to overlook that casino taxes, which are earmarked for education, are falling as a result of this expansion of gaming into our neighborhoods. Given the prevalence of video slots, casino admissions are down 1.2 million from last year and total taxes generated have fallen $29 million. Compared to the same point in 2012, before video slots were active, casino admissions are down 2.1 million and total taxes generated have fallen by $57 million.
      The explosion of video gaming is proof that the state can drastically increase gaming positions, yet end up with little or less gaming tax revenue for education. Despite all of this, calls to further expand gaming are coming from Illinois’ horse racing industry. They claim slots at tracks will be the savior of their sport, overlooking the broader national decline in the popularity of the pastime. If tracks were given slots, tax revenue for education from casinos would further decline.
      The calls for assistance from the racing industry are nothing new. Over the years they have asked lawmakers to change laws to help rekindle the sport in Illinois, ranging from intertrack wagering, simulcasting, advanced deposit wagering and a 1999 tax break package. The industry’s most audacious request was for direct cash infusions from state funds to reverse its fortunes. Over the past two years, the racing industry has received $167 million in state tax dollars to revive its sport.
      In 2012, tracks received $144 million from a special tax assessment on some casinos that proponents claimed would propel Illinois’ tracks to second or third in the nation. It’s clear that didn’t happen as track revenue fell, even after that sizable cash infusion.
      Page 2 of 2 - Then last June Illinois’ racing industry received another $23 million from the state treasury. That’s money that wasn’t spent on school construction, teachers or helping offset property tax increases for education.
      After all this money was infused into the sport, the racing industry says they still can’t make it work. So after burning through $167 million in incentives, the industry wants to pass a large gaming expansion bill that uses thousands of slot machines to subsidize the sport that in turn will take money away from local government budgets and classrooms. This is something we simply cannot afford.
      Tom Swoik is executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association.

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    • Tuesday, October 21, 2014

      Monday, October 20, 2014


      The RR Star requires voter to compare two candidates.  To date neither Mrs. Giesecke nor Mr. Larson have completed the survey.  Mrs. Giesecke was selected to be the second candidate only because two candidates are required to retrieve Bill Pysson’s responses.  To see if the two Republican candidates now have submitted their surveys go to:


      Boone County Board District 1 Choose 2

      Choose two candidates from below to compare.

      • Sherry Giesecke (Rep)
      • Raymond Larson (Rep)

        Bill Pysson (Dem) retired

      Candidate picture

      Bill Pysson (Dem) retired

      Sherry Giesecke (Rep)

      Change Candidates

      Social Media
      Biographical Information

      Age 65

      Occupation Former teacher, bank auditor, veterans claims examiner, Viet-Nam era veteran.

      Family Married Margaret Osbakken (1981); Daughter, Mary Anne, living and working in Chicago. Son, Michael, working in Seattle, WA.

      Campaign Address 9592 Denver Drive
      Belvidere, Illinois

      Campaign Phone (815) 544-5115



      Education/degrees earned BA in Education, MA in Economics, MBA in Finance

      Why are you running for Boone County Board?

      Bill Pysson I seek re-election to the Boone County Board because there are many improvements still needed for our county government. The accounting function is criticized each year by our external auditors for not having written procedures. Documentation of vehicle usage, citizen’s complaints and animal kennel occupancy are rudimentary if not, non-existent. Government is a series of checks and balances—the county board controls funding to the elected officials however thorough questioning of their budgets and financial actions does not always occur. The county board makes decisions with too few comparisons regarding costs of our county’s functions versus comparable counties. Revenues have not returned to pre-2008 levels; costs are escalating particularly in the policing and public safety areas. More questions need to be asked for county government to improve.

      Friends and neighbors, both Democrats and Republicans, have asked me to run again.

      Sherry Giesecke Candidate response is not yet available.

      Why should voters vote for you?

      Bill Pysson I have a track record of questioning, investigating and taking a stand on issues. I have taken actions to improve county government. The following is a partial list of my accomplishments: Required bidding for county owned farmland. Regular updating of changes in the county code are now available on the county’s website. Staff answering Freedom of Information Requests now have completed the state mandated training. Employees supervised by the County Administrator now have annual written reviews. For the first time in seven years a physical inventory of all county property was taken and a perpetual inventory is being devised. Public disclosure of employee salaries and benefits is made by name rather than position. Voluntary and paid positions in county government are being posted on the county website. I needed help from fellow board members to accomplish these improvements and sometimes there were major obstacles from leadership.There is much more to do. VOTE FOR BILL PYSSON

      Sherry Giesecke Candidate response is not yet available.

      Do you support larger property setback rules that would allow for wind turbine development in Boone County? Why or why not?

      Bill Pysson The wording of the question confuses the issue. The current ordinance only sets the "minimum of minimum" setbacks. Under the ordinance each wind turbine will require a special use permit which will take into account the unique geographic conditions of each turbine and its effect on the health and welfare of our citizens. Each turbine will have individual positioning which under most conditions will greatly exceed the ordinance's minimum setbacks. For more than two years anti-wind forces have attempted to change the stated minimums to much larger setbacks which would effectively outlawed wind turbines in Boone County. I voted "NO" to these larger setbacks. Our current ordinance is designed to use the special use process to insure safe positioning of turbines. Such positioning can occur only when an actual application is received. My position is nearly identical to the recommendation of the professional staff of the Boone County Planning and Zoning Department.

      Saturday, October 18, 2014

      Early Voting Hours/Late Registration & Voting


      For the November 4, 2014 General  Election, early voting will begin on October 20, 2014 and end November 1, 2014. Early voting will be conducted at the Boone County Clerk’s Office, 1212 Logan Avenue, Suite 103, Belvidere, Illinois, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday thru Friday and Saturday morning November 1 from 9 A.M. until Noon.   For more information about early voting and absentee voting please contact the Boone County Clerk’s Office at 544-3103.
      Mary S Steurer
      Boone County Clerk

      Above is from:



      October 7 is the last day (see the grace period below) to register to vote for the November 4th General Election

      HomeOctober 7 is the last day to register to vote for the November 4th General Election

      Mary S. Steurer, Boone County Clerk, announced that Tuesday, October 7, is the last day to register to vote for the November 4th General Election.  You may register in the County Clerk’s Office Monday and Tuesday from 8:30am – 5:00pm.  You must have 2 forms of identification, one must have your current address.  If you missed the October 7th deadline you may grace period register from October 8th through November 4th in the County Clerk’s Office Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. The same identification is required but you must also be prepared to vote at that same time.

      Above is taken in part from:

      Circuit Court Clerk Resigns

      Dear County Board Members;

      I received a letter of resignation from Circuit Clerk Nora Ohlsen today effective December 31, 2014.  I plan to notify the media immediately and advertise for her replacement as Nora is requesting sufficient transition time with the new Circuit Clerk.   I will request that a letter of interest from applicants be submitted to me on or before October 31, 2014.  Once I have received these letters I plan to hold an interview process of selected candidates at the upcoming Administrative and Legislative Committee meeting on November 3, 2014.

      I wish Nora well with her retirement and we will miss her service to Boone County.

      If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me on my cell phone at 815-xxx xxxx.


      Bob Walberg