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updated: 6/2/2011 4:45 PM

Lake County church leaders resisting Park City casino

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  • Developer Alan Ludwig said Thursday that scores of jobs and financial benefits would come from a Park City casino, but a Lake County ministers group opposes the idea.

      Developer Alan Ludwig said Thursday that scores of jobs and financial benefits would come from a Park City casino, but a Lake County ministers group opposes the idea.
    Associated PreSs

 
 

Some Lake County religious leaders are asking their congregations to contact Gov. Pat Quinn's office and urge him to veto a gambling expansion bill that would include a Park City casino.

Roughly 160 churches across Lake County have been asked to participate in fighting the possible Park City casino by the Greater Waukegan Ministerial Association. The ministers group has resisted previous Lake County casino plans.

Carl "Spark" Ball, executive director of Love in the Name of Christ of Lake County, said the churches are encouraging members to call or email Quinn's office.

Ball, who handles casino issues for the ministerial association, contends casinos don't help local economies and cause social ills, such as crime and problem gamblers.

"These things suck the economy dry because people are pumping their money into these machines and not other things," Ball said.

Supporters say casinos would bring sorely needed income to the state. Democratic state Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan, who's fought for the Park City casino, said it'll keep gambling money from crossing the border into Wisconsin emporiums.

As part of the proposed gambling expansion, five new casinos would be created in Park City, Chicago, the South suburbs, Rockford and downstate Danville. The plan also would allow 1,200 slot machines at Arlington Park and make similar provisions at six other Illinois racetracks.

No firm plans on a site or potential revenue-sharing benefits for nearby communities from the proposed Park City casino have been announced by city officials. Park City is near Route 41 between Gurnee and Waukegan.

But the city has an agreement with a private company that's scouted potential sites and would bring in a casino operator. Developer Alan Ludwig, president of Park City Gaming Inc., was unsuccessful in his efforts to secure a casino for Waukegan that began in 1993.

Ludwig would only say two or three sites are in the running for a Park City casino. He said a casino company has not been selected as of yet.

Ludwig said Thursday that scores of jobs and financial benefits would come to Lake County from a Park City casino.

"We're very excited," he said. "We think this is a wonderful opportunity for Lake County."

In 2003, Waukegan dangled an annual cut of $4.8 million from the $24 million in projected gambling revenue from a casino to eight school districts and nine towns in Lake County. Ludwig said Park City's elected officials would determine if a similar revenue-sharing offer is made.

Park City Mayor Steve Pannell couldn't be reached for comment.

Ludwig and another developer, Richard Stein, were part of the 2003 push to land a casino on what became the Fountain Square development in Waukegan, about a mile east of the Tri-State Tollway and Route 120. Waukegan lost out to Des Plaines for the state's 10th casino license.

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