We have all noticed the slogan from the Pro-Gambling group, “Let Forest Park Grow”. Their slogan implies growth in the village will be suppressed by “Voting to Prohibit.” Ironically, the only suppression done the last few years was by the gambling proponents and their allies on the village council and Election Board who chose to suppress your right to vote. “Voting YES to prohibit Gambling” is not about stifling growth. It is a vote to take back Forest Park from the few who want to exploit us. It is a vote that will remind the village administration how upset we are over their choice to ignore the will of the voters and force video gambling on the town. It is a vote to end the funneling of money out of this town through regressive taxation. It is a vote to grow the charm and family-oriented community we hold so dear.

We have yet to see any substantial growth for our village as a result of gambling. Our village fees have only increased. Some businesses that hosted these machines have shuttered or are silently listed for sale. VG only benefits a handful of bar owners. For every dollar gambled and lost, the bars and machine operators pocket 70 cents while the village brings in one nickel. What they call growth is really a scheme for easy money meant to bailout their faltering business on the backs of our neighbors.

So why do we need gambling to grow? Simply, we don’t. What we need is to reinvigorate the entrepreneurial spirit. This village has a great opportunity to reinvent itself. Let’s embrace new businesses that can give an economic boon to Forest Park, and encourage struggling businesses to change with the times. Why dive into an oversaturated gambling market instead of looking towards other sectors of the economy? Acquiring innovative businesses to set Forest Park apart from surrounding cities is what will drive an influx of visitors, jobs, and revenue in to our town, not out. We need to build momentum for future growth rather than rely on quick profits that come with considerable social costs, and no guarantees for future success.¬†

Forest Park is changing and that scares some people clinging to a bygone era, desperately preying on your fears of an underfunded Village and empty storefronts. They argue that our economy is still driven by bars that can only stay competitive in a free market by relying on gambling. They convinced our local government to over-ride the will of the public and force gambling on a skeptical town. Is this village a democracy or just another example of Chicago’s old school crony capitalism at work? Bar owners claim they are having a hard time, but seem to have an endless supply of cash to fight your right to vote all the way to the Supreme Court of Illinois. Thankfully, over 3000 residents said, “ENOUGH” by signing the petition that gives all of us a chance to vote on this issue, and some even chipped in for the lawyer needed to fight and secure our right to vote. This November, let’s focus our energy back to the growth of our village by Voting YES to Prohibit Video Gaming in Forest Park.

Daniel Marcus

Forest Park resident

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