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Gambling revenue promises are rarely met

May 30, 2012

Gambling revenue promises are rarely met. Gambling interests are pushing for a vote on a massive expansion bill during the final weeks of the legislative session. S.B. 1849 legalizes 11 more casinos, including a city-owned casino in Chicago and six racetrack casinos.

During the past 21 years, legislators legalized riverboat gambling, Off-Track Betting, dock-side gambling, Advanced Deposit Wagering, Internet Lottery and video gambling. With all that gambling revenue coming in, why does the state have such a large backlog of unpaid bills?

There would be little concern about how much gambling we have in Illinois if it were not for the social problems and costs that gambling creates. Casinos do not just shift crime from neighboring regions, but create crime, according to a study by Professors Grinols and Mustard. For every $1 of revenue gambling interests indicate is being contributed in taxes, it costs taxpayers $3 or more in social welfare, criminal justice and regulatory costs. The average cost to society per pathological gambler per year is $13,586.

One purpose of the bill is to keep and attract Illinois residents to gamble! The presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gambling, according to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. The rate of pathological gambling is significantly higher among minorities and low-income individuals.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who has continually opposed slot machines at racetracks, has said the state cannot gamble its way to prosperity. Call your legislators, (217-782-2000) and the governor (800-642-3112) and ask them to vote NO on S.B. 1849.

Anita Bedell, Executive Director
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems
Springfield, Ill.

From the May 30-June 5, 2012, issue

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