Forget the talk about the tenth Illinois casino. Proposed legislation now before the Illinois house would triple Illinois gambling, including the creation of a downtown Chicago casino.
While casinos can be very profitable, they are harmful to economic development. Restaurants are the hardest hit when a new casino opens, although expenditures in other sectors decrease also. Casinos can make more than half of their income from non-gaming revenues, including hotel and restaurant facilities on the premises. According to a study by E L Grinols and J D Omorov reported in the Spring 1996 Illinois Business Review:
Restaurants in many states, including Illinois, have reported that their revenues dropped as much as 50 percent in response to the opening of a nearby casino, and many restaurants have closed.
The social costs from gambling to the surrounding community can also be high. Costs associated with bankruptcy, debt, criminal justice costs, and other consequences of gambling problems can cost the community somewhere between four to eleven times the amount of tax revenue they bring in, depending on which study you look at. Gambling impoverishes whole communities.
And once a gambling enterprise is let into the state, it doesn’t go away. Although the racing business ceased being profitable long ago, the taxpayers of Illinois are still subsidizing that industry to keep it from going out of business.
Gambling is not good for business and it’s not good for Illinois.
The bill is being discussed this week. This is the time to contact your representative. You can find the contact information for your Illinois state representative here. If you don’t know your district you can find it here.