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Illinois Sees Gambling as Answer to Budget Woes

Gift of MoneyThe Illinois Senate has given its full support to the bill that plans to introduce six new casinos in the state with the aim to stabilize the shaken financial situation of the state. The idea of gambling expansion comes as an answer to the failed attempts to devise an effective budget plan over the last two years. Next to six new casinos, the new draft bill plans to reduce the tax rate in addition to slot machines at airports and racetracks. If this bill does gets passed and Illinois does in fact get the go ahead to build these six casinos it will be like a huge gift to the cash strapped state.

Gambling is the way out

For the past two years Illinois has been functioning without a budget plan and now it seems gambling industry could be its savior, by generating revenue through license fees and tax rates. Precisely this is the reason why state legislators have decided to draft and propose a bill that would allow for six new casinos to be built within the borders of the state. Popularly called “Grand bargain” has received the support of the Senate, however, there are other hurdles to be crossed. Prior to enforcing this proposal, a set of related bills also must be passed.

Everyone benefits

Should all go in favour of the gambling expansion the six new casinos will be built in Chicago, Lake County, Rockford, Danville and Williamson County, while airports and horse racing tracks will be allowed to add slot machines. The existing “river-boat” casinos will also benefit from the new legislation. In fact, their current tax rate of 50% will be dramatically reduced to 20% for slots and 16% for table games. In addition to that, the existing casinos will be allowed to add 400 seats at their premises.

Senator Terry Link has sponsored the analysis of this gambling expansion plan and came forth with the results which look promising. It is estimated by the analysis that the state would generate around $1 billion from license fees, while the annual revenue would record an increase of 18% which amounts to over $500 million. Furthermore, the construction of six new casinos will open new workplaces and improve touristic offer of the state.

Opposing arguments

No matter how fiercely the advocates of gambling expansion indicate the benefits that the new casinos will bring, there are still those who do not see gambling as the best way to tackle the budget issues. Anita Bedell, director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems points to the possible problems gambling could create and she also states that gambling expansion could, in fact, cost more than it will earn. She states: “For every $1 gambling brings the state, taxpayers dole out $3 to address the accompanying uptick in addiction, crime and bankruptcy.”

She also raises an interesting question of the competitiveness of the land-based casino in the world of video gaming and online casinos. With the constant development and growth of online gambling this is a matter to consider. However, there are no words on dealing with legalizing online gambling, even though this might be a better solution for the financially shaken state of Illinois.

Wrap Up

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