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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gambling at the corner tavern

Today's question of the day at the SJ-R's Boiler Room blog:

Did Illinois lawmakers do the right thing by legalizing video gambling in bars and other non-casino locations?

As one can tell, Illinois has now legalized video gambling at places other than casinos, i.e., corner taverns, a/k/a everywhere. No more will you have to drive to Peoria, or take the train to Joliet, or the bus to Alton to do your gambling. No more fighting traffic and looking for a parking spot at the OTB. No more standing in line at the gas station behind the guy buying one pack of generic cigarettes and $100 worth of lottery tickets. Now, you can just walk on down to your neighborhood tavern to get your gambling fix. That is convenient.

I believe the new law goes into effect on January 1, 2010, providing the regulations will have been written by that time. I'm sure the machines will be ready to be put in place by that time. Or, the currently in place non-wagering machines (wink) will be ready to be converted by that time.

To answer the question from an economic standpoint: As a source of revenue for the state, it'll be a while before we know if Illinois did the "right thing." I have a strong suspicion that until the economy picks up, like almost all the other current government revenue streams, actual moneys brought in from video gambling will fall somewhere short of the hopeful projections.

Plus, these machines will basically be entering an already saturated gambling market. We have casinos, we have horse tracks, we have off track betting if you can't make it to the track, we have all kinds of lottery, and possibly some other things, which escape me at the moment. If the money does come pouring in the door from video gambling, it'll be to the detriment of state revenues provided by those other forms of gambling. I could be wrong, though. Maybe.

To answer the question from a moral standpoint: At the risk of sounding like the church lady, no. The more I freaking think about it, the more I freaking can't believe our freaking state legislators and freaking governor actually freaking did this. Pathetic. You know those church people who are always writing letters to the editor criticizing gambling and all that entails? I gotta tell ya, I agree with them. Gambling is bad. Bad for the wallet. Bad for the soul.

Disclaimer: Yes, I put about $10.00 a year on the Kentucky Derby, when I remember; and I'm good for about $20.00 a year on the lottery; and I've been known to get in on a couple of those 50/50 raffles for charitable causes; and finally, I was raised on the notion that any game of poker other than five card stud is for sissies. But, hey, you wanna play a little Dr. Pepper? I'm in.

Posted by Marie at December 12, 2009 12:15 PM


Gambling has not solved a revenue problem for any state except maybe Nevada but that's only because their entire economy is built around it.

Posted by: Rob Author Profile Page at December 13, 2009 9:52 AM

I agree, Rob.

Posted by: Marie Carnes Author Profile Page at December 13, 2009 1:34 PM

Cribbage is my game. I'm trying to teach my niece so we can play for money (the first part of that sentence is true). I don't have a care in the world about the "moral" consequences of gambling. I agree it's disastrous as a policy choice and in its financial impact on the great majority of players.

Posted by: Dan at December 17, 2009 10:25 AM