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Gambling To Avert Poverty In Illinois?
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Gambling To Avert Poverty In Illinois?

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Illinois, the land of riverboat casinos, is thinking of expanding its casino industry by opening up many more casinos. There are nine riverboat casinos. The objective is to raise money to cover the budget deficit. The poor state of affairs, brought on by the recession, is showing no signs of abating. Therefore, the legislators are making a desperate attempt to earn some much needed revenue to carry on the public works.

Proposed Plan:

Open thousands of slot machines at horse-racing tracks across the state.
Open a land-based casino in Chicago as well as some temporary ones at the Chicago airport in the meanwhile.
Launch casinos in the many pockets of the state that have no access to them at all like Rockford and the Lake County.
Expand the capacities of the existing riverboat casinos.

This is hoped to raise as much as $1 billion more per annum!

Rationale:

The state has earned the lowest gambling income of $1 billion in 10 years. It is partly due to the smoking ban imposed on riverboats and partly because of the slow economy. It is looking to expand these earnings by opening more casinos.
The state faces a deficit of almost $15 billion that it needs to plug urgently. Few economic activities have the assured revenues that the gambling industry promises.
Gambling shops have the potential to employ many people. The more successful they are, the more the state earns in revenues.
It is a substitute to taxing the people for raising funds for development.

Criticism:

Anti-gambling advocates are convinced this will only lead to more despair. This is because those unemployed people with no income to support their families will be misled into the potentially dangerous addiction of gambling.
It is only likely to expand the earnings of the gambling industry, therefore increasing the divide between the haves and have-nots.
A tax system would ensure that you pay for the public works programs that you enjoy. In general, everyone benefits from roads, bridges, and electrical towers. Whereas, generating income from a casino’s earnings puts the whole onus on the shoulders of addicts who cannot afford to finance these works. In a sense, it taxes people for their weakness.
Most of the time, it is the economically weaker sections who try their luck in bad times to earn a quick buck. The same funds go full circle to help them when they are very badly off. The difference is there was no productive economic activity that generated the income. In the long run, this is likely to harm rather than help the economy.

In better times, perhaps the verdict on extra gaming in a state would have been clear-cut and predictable, but with the economy being at its nadir, better ideas are failing to make the cut. So, when it comes to a show of hands on this decision, it could just be passed and see fruition. In fact, there isn’t much doubt on where the vote will be cast when it comes to a head between more taxes and more gaming. All the same, in the past even a positive verdict on allowing video poker in truck shops has not ensured that it sees the light of day, thanks to the regulators.

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