Springfield Lawmakers Consider More Gambling
 
Springfield Lawmakers Consider More Gambling
Written By David E. Smith   |   03.10.09

The social costs of gambling far outweigh the perceived financial benefits.

The Illinois General Assembly is again considering a number of different bills that will expand gambling in our state — all in an effort to raise “easy” revenue to close an enormous budget hole created (in part) by irresponsible spending and a failure to plan for economic downturns. One current proposal would even create a government owned casino in Chicago.

TAKE ACTION: Please CLICK HERE to contact Governor Patrick Quinn, your State Representative and State Senator to ask them to vote AGAINST more gambling in Illinois.

The Bills

SB 1298 — Internet Gambling on Horse Racing — Sponsored by Senator Terry Link (D-Lake Bluff). This legislation would expand gambling to the Internet and allow bets to be placed from any location via a telephone-type device or any other electronic means.

SB 1654 — Lottery sales on the Internet — Sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). This legislation would expand gambling in every home and office with a computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anyone 18 years of age or older could gamble from a cell phone/BlackBerry.

HB 91 — Gambling & Casino Expansion — Sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Chicago). This legislation will create more gambling spots in the state — including slot machines at race tracks, 4 more casinos, a land-based casino in Chicago, and more positions at existing casinos.

HB 833 — Lottery Vending Machines at Rest Areas — Sponsored by Rep. Mike Boland (D-Moline). HB 833 could entice young people to gamble by the easy access to unmonitored, Lottery gambling machines.

HB 1328 — Lottery Scratch-Off Ticket for State Parks — Sponsored by Rep. Mike Boland (D-Moline). Another special Lottery ticket to provide revenue to State Parks and Historic Sites. Voters approved the Lottery for education and it has failed our children miserably.

HB 2522 — Free Alcoholic Drinks at Riverboat Casinos — Sponsored by Sen. Patrick Verschoore (D-Rock Island). Illinois casinos are located in densely populated areas. Giving free alcohol to gamblers will impact public safety when local people drive home impaired. Drinking alcohol lessens inhibitions, impairs a person’s ability to think clearly, and makes people more likely to take chances when gambling.

Background

The problems with gambling are not just with those who lose financially — that’s obvious — but the wider community also loses as gamblers engage in destructive behavior: they commit crimes, run up large debts, damage relationships with family and friends, and commit suicide at rates alarmingly higher than the rest of society. Consider these points:

  • A recent Wall Street Journal article reports that 2008 has proven that the gambling industry is not recession proof as once thought. The article about the push in many states to legalize or expand gambling says the rush to do either of those is short-sighted. Several state lotteries have reported significant drops in sales, while gambling revenue in the key markets of Las Vegas and Atlantic City has plummeted.

    “Just saying, ‘Oh, we need money to fill a budget hole, let’s legalize gambling’ — that doesn’t seem very farsighted to me,” saidDavid G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

    Suzii Paynter, who directs the public-policy arm of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, dismissed rosy projections of gambling revenue as “billionitis.” She argues that casinos wouldn’t so much bring in new dollars as cannibalize revenue from more-wholesome attractions, such as amusement parks, campgrounds and professional sports.

    Source: States Give Gambling a Closer Look (Wall Street Journal)

  • A study conducted by Oregon State University and the University of Washington took the novel approach of testing wastewater for traces of methamphetamines. Researchers took samples from 10 unnamed cities and found those with casinos showed five times more drug use. (Read more HERE.)
  • According to the 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report, (June 1999, pp. 7-27), individuals with gambling problems are disproportionately represented among the homeless. A survey of homeless service providers in Chicago found that 33 percent considered gambling a contributing factor in the homelessness of people in their program.

Casinos are no economic panacea — even in Illinois’ big cities. It would actually add to the homeless problem, bring increases in crime, suicide, domestic abuse, and alcohol abuse while creating broken families and new addictions.

It cannot be overstated — the social costs of gambling far outweigh the perceived financial benefits.

David  E. Smith
Dave Smith is Illinois Family Institute’s executive director.  He and his wife of 25 years are blessed to be the parents of eight children. David has 20-plus-years of experience in...
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