Gambling interests and lawmakers are working behind closed doors on a massive expansion of gambling that includes video gambling/slot machines at racetracks, a land-based casino in Chicago (twice the size of other casinos), 800 more gambling positions at existing casinos, and casinos in Lake County and Danville. This proposal could triple the amount of casino gambling in Illinois.
This is a very dangerous time for legislators to push through expansion of gambling. Even if current legislators lose in the election, they can still vote on public policy issues until the new General Assembly convenes in January.
Legalizing slots at racetracks will not help horse racing. When slot machines were introduced at racetracks in other states, betting on horses decreased 20 to 40 percent, and slot machines accounted for about 90 percent of revenue. Horse racing becomes a side show, and the tracks become land-based casinos.
Gambling has high costs and promises more than it can deliver. Pathological gambling rates double within a 50-mile radius of a gambling facility. For every $1 of revenue from casinos, the cost is at least $3 due to criminal justice, regulatory and social costs.
The Legislature greatly expanded gambling last year, with ADW (Internet bets) for horse racing, video gambling, and Internet Lottery.
When large, complex bills are rushed through, mistakes are made, and the people lose. Legislators need to be accountable to the people, and “lame ducks” should not rush through a massive expansion of gambling on their way out the door.
Anita Bedell, Executive Director
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol
& Addiction Problems
From the Nov. 17-23, 2010 issue