« Get someone from accounting! | Main | Photo not taken: Outside »

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gambling for revenue


That's a screen capture of the results of yesterday's SJ-R unofficial click poll. This is highly remarkable, if for no other reason than the number of people who took the poll. These polls are usually good for a couple, maybe four, thousand clicks. This one captured almost 13,800 votes. Wow!

A letter to the editor in opposition to gambling expansion starts out:

It is wrong for the state to encourage people to gamble. State leaders know that individual citizens will lose money so that the state will gain revenue. They also know that when people choose to gamble, they have less to spend on goods and services. It is flat-out wrong to ask citizens to lose money so that the state may gain revenue. (It’s not good to be known as ‘Las Vegas of Midwest’ - third letter down)

In the comments, this is the argument for the pro-expansion side:

You do realize that the states around Illinois have gambling casinos, right? We have casinos, horse racing, lotteries and we always will. With casinos in the surrounding states, if we don't provide the venue to gamble, we will be losing out on a lot of revenue.

And that's that.

Not counting the fact that gambling hurts people and families, and not taking into consideration the reasons for looking to new revenue sources, the question must be asked: Just how many gambling dollars are there out there?

Personally, I'm down for about $20 or $30 a year in lottery tickets. Maybe a charitable 50/50 drawing here and there. Oh, and about $10 or $12 on the Kentucky Derby (if I remember). And that's that. Look not to Marie Carnes to bail out your mass transit situation. There will be no expansion of gambling spending in this household.

Listening to: The Ohmega Watts Remix of Charles Brown's "I'll Be Home For Christmas." Love that version.

Posted by Marie at December 6, 2007 9:15 PM


While I'm not against the idea of gambling expansion - especially a tasteful venue in an acceptable part of Chicago (read: nowhere near Michigan or State, Millennium or Grant Park, the Museum Campus or Wrigley) - the state needs to understand that you can only go to the well so many times. The stream of income from gambling is not going to dry up - people continue to wager and new more people become the legal age everyday - but it's not like there are a lot of people that don't have access to a casino now. Unless you're between Chambana and Mt. Vernon, either you're within an hour and change from a boat or you're in an area of the state too void to support one. Except, of course, for the Chicagoland area, which would be served by this new casino (and has two boats in Joliet now.)

I guess my rambling point is that expansion now in Chicago is fine; it's a huge tourist draw and would bring in natives that don't want to trek down to Joliet or into Indiana at the present. In fact, you might as well put it in Schaumberg right next to the largest tourist attraction in the State of Illinois: Woodfield Mall. It'll fit right in with all the depressing suburban concrete sameness. But after that it's time to go back to the drawing board and find a new source of revenue, because we'll have sucked all we can out of gambling. It won't dry up, but it won't grow that much in the future, either. (Not counting the loss of revenue for the Mississippi boats when people start crossing the river on January first so they can light up while they pull the lever.)

Posted by: Peter at December 6, 2007 11:37 PM

I'm really surprised at the number of people voting for gambling expansion so that something could be "bailed out." I would have thought it would be more evenly distributed. And I agree with you, there's only so many gambling dollars to go around. If everyone were like me, there'd be zero gambling dollars a year. (The Maryland voters get to decide for themselves next November - finally - whether we're to have slot machines in the state or not.)

Posted by: Kem White Author Profile Page at December 7, 2007 4:00 PM

Gambling revenue is like any other sin tax like taxes on alcohol and tobacco except that gambling interests will complain when they have trouble meeting their commitments ... and it works. The Riverboat casinos in Louisiana came up with 1001 excuses for why they couldn't leave the dock (They were supposed to go for 3hr cruises because they were not allowed to be land-based but gamblers don't like to be stuck on the boat for 3 hours). The lone land-based casino here came up with another 1001 excuses for why they couldn't meet their $100 million dollar payment to the state (Of course, they mentioned the riverboats not leaving the dock as one of them). None of our legislators had the cojones to say, "Tough. The only reason we allowed you to be here at all is because of those beautiful promises you made to the citizens of Louisiana". They backed off and the gamblers pay pretty much what they want and the state is still scrambling for revenue. Their favorite refrain is, "If we don't do it, that money will just go next door to Mississippi".

Posted by: Rob Author Profile Page at December 8, 2007 9:55 AM

The road to hell is paved with no taxes, except on the saps who pay what amounts to a tax through gambling. The failure of the entire political establishment from coast to coast to just ask people to pay for the stuff they want -- it's revolting. Or it ought to be revolting. Instead, the talk of revolt is among the tight-fisted jerks who vote down school bonds and organize to scare the bejesus out of the already cowardly denizens of the statehouses across the land. They could care less about public transit because they never ride it. Meantime, those same tight-fisted jerks roll over for money pits like Iraq -- no amount is too much to ask -- and sing hosanna to free market heroes like our oil companies and their shareholders who have got the world's most powerful vacuum sucking dollars out of our pockets.

End of rant.

Posted by: Dan at December 11, 2007 12:07 AM