Anti-Gambling Activist Takes Heat for Big Sweepstakes Win

Some call her a hypocrite, but Kathy Gilroy says sweepstakes differ because they're free to enter
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 28, 2017 4:30 PM CST
She's Railed Against Gambling for Years. She Just Won $25K
In this photo from Wednesday, Kathy Gilroy poses for a photo in Villa Park, Ill.   (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune via AP)

For decades, Kathy Gilroy has crusaded against gambling, saying it can lead to addiction, bankruptcy, crime, and suicide and that it "erodes society's values and work ethic," per the Chicago Tribune. But the suburban Chicago woman recently won $25,000 by playing a sweepstakes game at a gambling cafe in her hometown, and she says that while it's ironic she won the sweepstakes, the distinction is that she didn't spend her own money to gamble, the AP reports. Gilroy, 68, says she enters sweepstakes because they're made available free of charge under state law, and she notes she's won other prizes by entering sweepstakes, including electronics and trips to the Bahamas and California. But when she won a grand prize drawing at a Villa Park restaurant on Dec. 16, she admitted she felt conflicted.

"I called a pastor friend, and said, 'Oh my God, should I send it back? What do I do? Do I donate it?'" Gilroy tells the Tribune. "He said, 'Don't feel guilty. You just got paid for all your volunteer work against gambling.' It’s God showing his grace on me." Gilroy started railing against gambling when she lost $700 she'd won at the racetrack decades ago. She most recently helped shut down a $1.6 million Queen of Hearts raffle put on by the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in rural Morris this year until the raffle was properly licensed, and it's efforts like that that have some calling her out for her sweepstakes win. "It's ironic that someone who's anti-gambling would enter something like that," Morris VFW Commander Jerry Zeborowski says. "That's a little hypocrisy there, don't you think?"

(More gambling stories.)

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