Massive Gambling Bill in Springfield
Massive Gambling Bill in Springfield
Written By David E. Smith   |   05.25.11

Please take three minutes to respond to this call to action!

With just a few days left before their scheduled May 31st spring session adjournment, Illinois state lawmakers do not have much time left to pass a budget, pension and retiree health care reform, workers’ compensation reform, and create new legislative districts for 2012.

As if they didn’t have enough to do, one of the proposals making their priority list is a massive gambling bill (SB 744) that would create five new casinos in the Land of Lincoln, including one in Chicago. This legislative proposal would authorize additional casinos in Danville, Rockford, Park City, and somewhere in the South Suburbs.

Sponsored by State Senators Terry Link (D-Lincolnshire), Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) and State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie), this 409 page bill would also create “racinos” — video slot machines at the state’s six horse race tracks and at Chicago’s two airports.

Take ACTION: Contact your lawmakers to tell them “NO MORE GAMBLING — PERIOD.” Don’t delay in speaking out! With only days left in the spring session, this gambling bill will move fast!

Adding to the 10 casinos we currently have in Illinois, residents of this state face the prospect of having 21 casinos or casino-like establishments in the near future, making Illinois a top contender for the most anti-family and predatory gambling state in the nation.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission suggests that problem gambling and addiction rates DOUBLE within a 50 mile radius of a casino. Think of all the people within a 50 mile radius of 11 new casinos or casino-like establishments, and how many new gambling addicts the state will help to produce with this foolish proposal. In Chicago there are 2.8 million people and in Cook County there are 5.2 million. There is an enormous potential for a great many new gambling addicts in Chicagoland alone! How is this good public policy?

While high-paid lobbyists for the predatory gambling industry promise our lawmakers to solve the state’s fiscal problems. Here are some important insights and facts that must be considered in this debate:

  • Casino gambling causes up to $289 in social costs for every $46 of economic benefit. (Grinols, Earl L. Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits, Cambridge University Press, NY, NY, 2004)
  • Professor John Kindt of the University of Illinois has studied the economic impact of gambling for over twenty years and concludes that for every $1 of revenue generated by gambling, the state must spend $3 on increased social services. (Tribal Proposals to Acquire Land-in-trust for Gaming Across States Lines: Hearing before the H. Comm. on Resources, 109th Cong. 4 [2005])
  • Gambling is the fastest growing teen addiction, with the rate of pathological gambling twice that of adults — 4 percent to 8 percent for adolescents compared to 1 percent to 3 percent for adults. (Kindt, John, (Ed). US International Gambling Report, Hein and Co. 2008)
  • The National Gambling Impact Study Commission strongly advised against the creation of racetrack casinos:

    Recommendation 3-12
    The Commission recommends that states should refuse to allow the introduction of casino-style gambling into pari-mutuel facilities for the primary purpose of saving a pari-mutuel facility that the market has determined no longer serves the community or for the purpose of competing with other forms of gambling.

  • Increases in rape, robbery, aggravated assault, larceny and auto theft are found in areas where casinos are built. (Grinols, Earl L, David Mustard and Cynthia Hunt-Dilley. “Casinos, Crime and Community Costs” Social Science Research Network, June 2000)
  • An Australian study concluded for every 80 slot machines, 2 million dollars is drained from the economy. (Grinols, Earl L.Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits, Cambridge University Press, NY, NY, 2004)
  • Some studies concluded that gambling is as much a risk factor for domestic violence as alcohol abuse. (National Gambling Impact Study Commission, 1999)
  • Gambling is the fastest growing and fourth leading cause of bankruptcy. (Kindt, John, (Ed). US International Gambling Report, Hein and Co. 2008)
  • Suicide rates are 2 to 4 times greater in gambling counties than non-gambling counties. (Phillips, David P. Ward Welty and Marrisa Smith. “Elevated Suicide Levels Associated with Legalized Gambling” Dec. 1997)

Expanding legalized gambling creates a web of loss, anger and despair that impacts not only the gamblers, but their families, friends and communities. Expanded gambling is not the answer to the state’s fiscal problem, but will instead create pain and suffering for far too many families. Much of this will have to be absorbed by taxpayers as foreclosures, crimes, addictions, divorce, bankruptcies, and unemployment increase.

David  E. Smith
Dave Smith is the executive director of Illinois Family Institute (501c3) and Illinois Family Action (501c4). David has 25-plus-years of experience in public policy and grass-roots activism that includes countless...
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