SPRINGFIELD -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Glenn Poshard has said in a press conference that he opposes the expansion of gambling.
In fact, he also would oppose dockside gambling for the Casino Rock Island, according to officials from Illinois Church Action on Alcohol Problems, a statewide group that opposes the expansion of legalized gambling.
The group said Mr. Poshard's response to a survey indicated he would not support the dockside measure, which the Rock Island-based casino said it needs to compete with boats docked in Davenport and Bettendorf.
Dave Stricklin, a spokesman with Mr. Poshard's office, said the question on the survey stated: If elected to office, how would you vote on following gaming expansion issues? Unrestricted egress and digress on permanently moored barges or riverboats (dockside gambling). He said Mr. Poshard answered that he would oppose that issue.
Mr. Poshard's stance appears to be at odds with what he previously has said about dockside gambling. Last month, Mr. Poshard visited Rock Island and said though he considers dockside gaming an extension of riverboat gambling, he would consider exceptions for casinos competing directly against Iowa's more flexible rules.
``We're disappointed in that he has now basically changed his opinion,'' said Bill Renk, vice president of sales and marketing for Casino Rock Island.
The group said more than 100 political candidates in Illinois have responded to the survey asking their views on gambling expansion. The full results will be published in October in voter guides to be handed out in United Methodist, and possibly other, churches.
``Gambling is an important public-policy issue,'' said Anita Bedell, executive director of the organization, which uses the acronym ILLCAAP. ``We are asking candidates to look at the gambling issue and make their position public before the election.''
The legislative body of the United Methodist Church consistently has opposed gambling, said Paul Black, administrative assistant to Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference, which represents 176,000 members in more than 1,000 congregations in the southern two-thirds of Illinois.
``Certainly, most voters are not single-issue voters. We realize that,'' Mr. Black said at an ILLCAAP news conference. ``But we also realize the importance of an informed voter, and we feel this is a good first step of making sure that our membership is informed as to where the candidates stand on the various issues dealing with gambling.''
The Rev. Tom Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, said there is a ``clear difference'' between Mr. Poshard and his Republican opponent, George Ryan, on the gambling issue.
Mr. Poshard's survey indicates he supports a statewide referendum on gambling before expansion occurs.
Casino Rock Island favors dockside gambling because its adoption in other states -- such as neighboring Iowa -- has taken away customers from Illinois.
Mr. Renk said he is disappointed Mr. Poshard hasn't investigated the benefits of dockside gambling with workers at Casino Rock Island.
``He never came and spoke with us,'' Mr. Renk said. ``We would have welcomed him coming to us and talking to us about this issue.
``We agree with George Ryan that it is an economic issue,'' he said. ``We've got tax dollars going over to the state of Iowa. We've lost jobs to Iowa and economic income to Iowa.''
In a separate Springfield appearance Wednesday, Mr. Poshard said he opposes the expansion of gambling because ``we've gone far enough.''
Mr. Grey said Mr. Ryan didn't return the survey sent to him, so ILLCAAP is using the responses he submitted before the spring primary.
Ryan campaign spokesman Dave Urbanek said his candidate did not receive the survey, but his answers would not have changed since the spring. Mr. Ryan opposes a statewide referendum and favors dockside gambling. He also opposes such gambling issues as additional riverboat casinos, land-based casinos, and slot machines at racetracks.
Dockside gambling is not an expansion of gambling, Mr. Urbanek said, but would level the playing field and allow Illinois riverboat casinos to compete better with other states' riverboat casinos.
Copley News Service contributed to this article.