BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS: THE POKER PLAGUE

IN ONE SMALL TOWN, GAMBLING MAIMS THE MEEK AND THE MIGHTY

The judge who presided over the trial that blew open Belleville's gambling culture said it had spread like "cancer in the community," and for once this was not the hyperbole of a bench-pounding moralist.

This community of 43,000 residents planted its German roots in the cornfields east of St. Louis, Mo., more than a century ago, and today wears its heritage from storefront to storefront: Krupp Florist, Schnuck's Grocery, Dueker Chiropractic. In this tidy community of Moose lodges and brick churches, even the gas stations are nicely landscaped. But look closer, and gambling seems to have sneaked in everywhere--and not just...

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