Catholic bishops in Illinois are taking a stand against proposed gaming expansion in the state.
Monday, the bishops released a statement urging lawmakers to reconsider legislation that would allow new casinos to open in Chicago and other parts of the state, as well as slot machines at horse-racing tracks.
"Our traditional teaching is clear. Gambling is not immoral in itself, but may become so under certain circumstances," the statement reads.
"This enslavement is experienced on a personal level. As gambling in our state increases, so also does the number of people whose passion for gambling is enslaving them. They lose money, many times in large amounts, which they and their families sorely need. The harm resulting from this enslavement is an increasingly serious problem that we must honestly face."
"They've observed from their conversations with the priests that there are increasing numbers of people coming to confessional and to the parish for assistance with addiction," said Robert Gilligan, Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois.
"They've been thinking about saying something for a long time and so that statement reflects a long conversation and observation, and input from priests and lay people alike," he said.
Meanwhile, some hope -- after years of debate -- this will be the year lawmakers pass the gaming expansion legislation.
"This would be a tremendous, tremendous boon to the Fairmount Park, and really the jobs and the economy in all of Southern Illinois," said Fairmount Park Race Track spokesperson, Jon Sloane.
"Fairmount Park would become a year round attraction, it would take seasonal jobs turn them into year-round jobs. It would create far more jobs, it would create revenue for the state and revenue for Southern Illinois and all the industries that are, basically, related to horse racing."
Earlier this month, Casino Queen announced it plans to acquire Fairmount Park Holdings. That acquisition hinges on the passage of the gaming legislation.