I plan on voting yes to prohibit gambling in Forest Park. I don’t really view this as some sort of moral crisis we’re having, nor do I think that the town will begin crumbling both literally and figuratively at its foundation if we keep gambling. I just don’t really like it.
There’s this assumption going around that if we don’t have gaming here, people will just go to other towns and we’ll lose out, that gambling is some kind of inevitability that we may as well give in to. I guess I can’t say for certain that assumption is wrong; There doesn’t seem to be a great amount of empirical research done on these questions. What I can tell you is that the bright, gaudy, loud machines sitting in too many places on Madison Street (and the rest of the Western suburbs, for that matter) are one of the reasons why on a lot of nights out I’d rather go to Oak Park or the city. I don’t want to look at these things when I’m trying to eat dinner, or hanging out at a bar. Maybe I’m alone in that. But I doubt it, especially when you consider people outside our borders who don’t view these machines as some inescapable part of life. Perhaps worse is this “we have to do it because everyone else is doing it” thinking behind the no campaign, showing that gaming isn’t a solution to our town’s problems; It’s a crutch.
Instead of highlighting what makes our town unique, or coming up with good ideas to attract people, we’re chasing gambling dollars, throwing ourselves into an already watered down market. This town has some real charm and some real history with some unique opportunities to attract visitors. For whatever reason some people want us to be just another Western burb with a bunch of low rent casinos in it. Whichever way this gambling vote goes, businesses would be smart to forgo the gaming machines and other gimmicks and focus on what makes us different than our neighbors. If you really want Forest Park to grow, drop the crutch, and be creative.
Forest Park resident