Illinois had made bets on gaming promises for well over a decade. All of the bets the state has made come after promises of gambling as the be all and end all of shrinking state, county and township revenues. Now that there are 30,000 video slot and video poker machines are in over 6800 locations across the state, the revenue is not happening. Why not? Experts cite several reasons why video gambling in Illinois is not helping the economy of the state.
One of the largest problems with the legalization of video gaming in Illinois has been what to do with Chicago. The Chicago Metropolitan Area has nearly 10 million people in it. When Chicago is compared to the rest of the state, it is easy to see the problem. While there are 9.6 million people in the Chicago metro, there are only 3.2 million additional people in the state itself. This means that the population of the state centers in the north.
This population emphasis would be fine—except video gambling is not allowed in Chicago. Not only does this ban mean many people living in Chicago cannot play, it also means that many people visiting the largest city in the Midwest cannot play either. This represents a large problem for gambling revenue.
It’s the Economy
The original intent of the bill was to put more money into the hands of people who would spend it wisely. The revenues from gambling were supposed to be added to the general fund, and be doled out where needed. However, that is not what happened. What happened was that the growth of the industry exploded, and that there are not enough people to make sure the industry is behaving itself. There is no way the state can track the revenue streams of gambling.
These economic issues mean that the Illinois state government has been saddled with all kinds of costs related to the addition of video gambling. First, the state did not include information in the bill to allow legal video gambling to share the startup costs of gaming with the gaming companies. While the gaming companies saw their revenues jump right away, the state did not, as the legislation meant they paid for startup costs and regulatory costs.
Companies that have video gaming machines in the state are very familiar with gaming legislation. Experts have said that because the companies know so much more than the city or county governments do, they are able to reap the benefits. This means for example that the video gaming companies knew that their profits would mean that the profits for casinos decreased. People chose to stay in their neighborhoods rather than go into a large city to gamble.
The State of Illinois believed that it would see around $3 billion in 10 years from the proceeds of illegal gambling. However, 10 years after the bill that allowed video gambling was passed, the state has failed to see half of that amount. Illinois was hoping in the depths of the Great Recession that video gambling would be the cure-all. However, what the state has found is that the revenue is enough to pay the debt payments for all of the new building the state began. In reality, Illinois is not seeing any real profit from video gambling. Neither are the counties and townships.
Overall, while some townships or counties have seen some revenue benefits, the majority of cities and counties have not seen the benefit of video gambling machines. In some cases, community resources have needed to be used to regulate video gambling. For example, community resources have been used to help people who become problem gamblers. In general, the overall thinking about the benefits of video gambling in Illinois has not been as positive as legislators hoped.
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