Aaron Jaffe, chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board, appeared on WTTW Chicago Tonight this week. Please watch this informative video: July 20, 2011 – Illinois Gaming Chair | Chicago Tonight | PBS Video
Steve Chapman’s recent column seems to dismiss critics who are concerned about the impact of the massive expansion of gambling and the legalization of video gambling statewide. The results of a natural experiment in South Dakota, suggest that the accessibility and availability of video gambling machines is an important factor in the number of people being adversely impacted by gambling.
The National Gambling Impact Study Commission Final Report found the presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers.
The State of Iowa commissioned a prevalence study as to the rate of pathological gambling prior to the beginning of riverboat gambling an five years after the casinos were operational. During that time, the rate of lifetime pathological gambling increased 200 percent (from 1.7% to 5.4%).
In a Chicago Tribune article about the Rivers Casino, the marketing director noted that while rewards card members make up 20% of casino clientele, they generate 80% of the revenue. In Pennsylvania local people are going to racetrack casinos 3-5 times a week to gamble on the slot machines.
A casino is not like any other business. Illinois casinos are required to have State Police and Illinois Gaming Board staff on hand to ensure against money laundering, cheating, and crime. How many other businesses are operated in this fashion?
The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled the 2009 video gambling bill was constitutional. Every community and county that does not OPT OUT of video gambling, will have local people gambling and losing money in their own community. People who would never participate in illegal gambling, will be tempted to try their luck when the legal machines are installed in truck stops, sports bars, restaurants, bowing alleys, veterans and fraternal organizations, and many other locations. Making gambling more accessible will lead to increases in addiction, bankruptcy, and crime.