gambling – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop Chicago Community Stories Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:45:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Slot machines kill jobs Tue, 16 Aug 2011 21:56:07 +0000 Mayor Emanuel is promising to spend his new $140 million a year from the Chicago casino he expects on wonderful things that we’ll all love.  While casinos will create some jobs, he tells the Tribune, “the real job growth and economic growth will come from investment” of the city’s take.

It may not be that simple.   Consider the costs.

Every new slot machine at a Chicago casino will destroy one job each year, by taking money out of the consumer economy, according to John Warren Kindt, business professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana.  Four thousand slots could mean forty thousand lost jobs over a decade.

Each slot machine, conservatively, takes in $100,000 a year.  With the multiplier effect on consumer spending, that means that 4,000 planned slot machines in Chicago will remove $1.2 billion from the consumer economy each year, Kindt said.

That’s a loss of $120 million in sales tax, just for starters, to set against the $140 million in city profits. Not to mention a heavy blow to a struggling economy.

There are years of academic research showing that gambling destablizes local economies, he said; much of it is reviewed in the four-volume, 3,000-page U.S. International Gambling Series which Kindt edited.  (Tell your library to get it.)

“The economic argument is totally disingenuous,” Kindt said.  The state’s proposed gambling expansion “will absolutely hurt the economy.”

The expansion is “all about slot machines,” he said.  Up to 90 percent of gambling profits come from slot machines.

“Slot machines don’t create jobs,” Kindt said. “You just dust them off and collect the money.”

And costs to government go up as gambling addiction rises (doubling within casino feeder markets), bankruptcies climb (18 to 42 percent higher in area around casinos, Kindt said) and crime rates go up (about 10 percent a year).  That means costs to government of $3 for every $1 in gambling revenue.

So it may not be time yet to start counting chickens.  Governor Quinn has yet to sign the bill; and if he does, the win-to-loss ratio may be less favorable than the politicians project.

Kindt recalls promises 20 years ago that casinos in Illinois would solve the state’s budget problems forever.  Now, Illinois and two other states with large gambling industries (California and Nevada) lead the nation in budget shortfalls.  He’s convinced that “the accumulated taxpayer costs that accompany gambling facilities” are a major factor in Illinois’ budget crisis.

If that’s true, then more of the same wouldn’t be the solution.

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Place your bets Thu, 19 May 2011 20:35:07 +0000 Renewed talk of a casino in Chicago “appears to be just that – talk,” according to a statement from the Task Force to Oppose Gambling for Chicago.

State Representative Lou Lang of Skokie told Crain’s Greg Hinz that he’s introducing yet another version of legislation to expand gambling; WBEZ reports Mayor Emanuel is lobbying legislative leaders for a casino; and a Sun Times editorial is in favor.

“We have lots of talk from a neophyte mayor and a couple suburban legislators, but it’s the same legislators and the same talk we’ve been hearing for years” said Doug Dobmeyer of the task force.

Now they “want to jam a casino down Chicago’s throat” in the final days of the legislative session, he said.  “That move is a joke that will only undermine the new mayor.”

The politically influential casino industry backs a Chicago casino but not four additional casinos around the state which Lang has proposed, Dobmeyer said.  Leave out the additional sites (as the Sun Times suggests) and you lose downstate support, Lang argues.  In addition, a brand new casino opening in Des Plaines just three weeks from now is not going to look favorably on unexpected competition from Chicago.

“This talk is diverting the city and state from finding legitimate ways to plug deficit holes in their budgets,” Dobmeyer said, enumerating a range of proposals including a financial transaction tax and a city income tax.  He points out that New York City has both.  (More here.)

He said a survey during the recent election campaign showed 28.8 percent of aldermanic candidates supported a casino and 42.8 were opposed.  Some 78 percent of candidates supported a referendum on gambling in Chicago before any legislative action.

A Chicago casino would “draw low-income people and problem gamblers to support the gambling business,” Dobmeyer said. “This disrupts a family’s efforts to educate its children and provide the basics of family life, especially during the recession.”

Video poker debates Sun, 18 Oct 2009 17:17:30 +0000 A Chicago ordinance bans video poker; with the state’s new capital budget funded in part by the legalization of video poker, a push to repeal the local ban is expected.

And with scores of localities moving now to institute bans, “Chicago is the key whether video poker machines will exist in Illinois,” said Rev. Thomas Gray of the national organization Stop Predatory Gambling.

Three forums this week will bring together the Task Force to Oppose Gambling in Chicago and the Illinois Coin Machine Operators Association, joined by Ald. Joe Moore and the Illinois Conference of the United Methodists — Monday, October 19, 7:30 p.m. at Humboldt Park United Methodist Church, 2120 N. Mozart [corrected]; Tuesday, October 20, 12 noon at Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington; and Wednesday, October 21, 7 p.m. at the Rogers Park Library, 6907 N. Clark.

Video poker: bad bet Mon, 14 Sep 2009 18:47:08 +0000

Video poker is turning out to be a riskier gamble than Governor Quinn and state legislators thought when they legalized it earlier this year, looking for easy money to fund a public works budget.

They were betting it would add $300 million in state revenues per year.  That now seems unlikely.  Their September 11 deadline for poker video rules from the gaming board has come and gone, the board insisting it’s a far more complex process (involving investigating and approving each proposed location) than the politicians realized, with a much longer timeline.

In the meantime, dozens of towns are considering taking advantage of the law’s provision allowing local bans on video gambling.  DuPage County has banned it in unincorporated areas, and Cook and Will Counties are considering similar actions.

The Tribune just found that 60 percent of Illinois residents oppose video gambling. 

Expanding gambling always looks like the perfect quick-fix solution when budgets are tight, U. of I. business professor John Kindt told the New York Times, “but in the end it so often proves to be neither quick nor a fix.”

Today a number of anti-gambling groups are launching Operation Let The Public Decide, aimed at holding public hearings on video poker in communities around the state — and working to keep in place the ordinance that bans video poker in Chicago.

Ald. Joe Moore, County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, Jane Ramsey of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Rev. Larry Hilkemann of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodists, Nancy Duell of the Anti-Gambling Task Force, and Rev. Tom Grey of Stop Predatory Gambling were slated for a City Hall announcement this morning. 

Gainer has called the $300 million revenue projection “an exaggeration bordering on fantasy.”  Indeed, the Times says Illinois has reported a $166 million drop in gambling-related revenue in the past year.  And much money spent on video poker is money that won’t be spent on the lottery or in casinos.

In Elgin, the League of Women Voters is calling on the city council to ban video poker; the city is studying the issue.  LVW’s Lauren Bault “said gambling is a regressive way to raise revenue that targets the poor. She also said gambling has a low-growth potential and video poker encourages people to play longer, faster and bet more,” the Daily Herald reports.

“Gambling is not a source of revenue that is equitable, progressive, stable and responsible,” Bault said.

In unrelated news, video poker lobbyist Joe Berrios was slated for Cook County Assessor by the Cook County Democratic Party, chaired by video poker lobbyist Joe Berrios.

Missing from budget debate Thu, 26 Jun 2008 21:09:20 +0000 Personalty conflict is a big part of the state’s budget impasse — but for the major media it’s the only story, and that’s part of the problem.

Take funding for the state’s desperately needed capital budget.  It’s presented largely as a problem between the governor and the mayor over how much the city will pay for a casino franchise.

There’s a lot more to the story, according to Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability — a reality that is largely separate from the rhetoric, which is all that seems to get covered.

The vast majority of gaming is in-state, Martire said, and it’s a substitute expenditure — money spent in casinos is not spent at dry cleaners or shoe stores.  But because the majority of casino owners are out-of-state, the profits don’t go back into the local economy, the way money spent at the dry cleaners does.

Compared to public expenditures, which have a large multiplier effect on the local economy — teachers salaries are spent in ways that produce more jobs here — spending on gaming has a significant negative multiplier effect, he said.

Compared to a direct tax — where a dollar for the state costs a taxpayer a dollar — every dollar in gaming revenues for the state costs an Illinois resident five dollars in gambling losses.  And the people providing the revenues are not the wealthiest by far  — they’re low and middle income.

Martire also doubts the short-term gain (and the politicians’ revenue projections), since a new casino in Chicago or the south suburbs is going to attract the same people who are now taking buses to Joliet and Elgin.

To top it all off, it’s a low-wage industry.

It’s a huge net loss for the state, Martire said.

He holds out hope for a realignment of political forces in the veto session, after the election, that could boost chances for real fiscal reform.  CTBA, A-plus Illinois, and others are backing SB 2288, which would balance the budget, increase the tax system’s progressivity and reduce property taxes, provide a permanent revenue stream for schools — and fund the same $25 billion capital program the governor is pushing.  The bill passed the Senate education committee earlier this year by a vote of 6 to 3.

“All the state’s fiscal problems are coming to a head,” Martire said — a tax system that doesn’t grow with the economy, the pension crisis, health care costs, inadequate and inequitable school funding.  In other times, such a crisis would present an opportunity to address basic problems, he said.

It’s the “toxic relationships” in Springfield that have gotten us here, Martire said.

But focusing on the personalities and ignoring the issues that are at stake just recirculates the poison — and fails to point to a way out of the impasse.

Yet another casino drive Wed, 21 May 2008 19:36:26 +0000

The latest proposal for a Chicago casino is just “the same old thing — fleece the public,” according to the Task Force to Oppose Gambling in Chicago.

The proposal is part of a plan by former U.S. Representatives Denny Hastert and Glenn Poshard for a state capital budget.

“With a recession hurting the economy, political leaders can only think of more ways to hurt people in need,” said Doug Dobmeyer of the Task Force.

He noted that efforts to bring gambling to Chicago have failed for 19 years.  The Task Force called on the City Council to sponsor a referendum on the Chicago casino proposal.

Gambling on a capital budget Fri, 18 Jan 2008 16:07:47 +0000 When Governor Blagojevich approved a regional sales tax hike to fund mass transit operations, it wasn’t the first campaign pledge he’s reversed recently. Just last month he went back on promises in his 2002 and ’06 campaigns to oppose gambling expansion.

Noting that he has “traditionally opposed” gambling expansion, Blagojevich’s spokesperson said December 17 that “in the spirit of compromise” he was “willing to accept at gaming expansion as a better source of revenue than raising taxes on people.”

But it was another “tradition” — the anti-tax pledge — that fell in this week’s compromise. And with the state’s long-deferred capital budget still unaddressed, the Task Force to Oppose Gambling in Chicago is suggesting it’s time to look at alternatives to gambling again.

A bill for massive gambling expansion, HB 4194 — which would add a land-based casino in Chicago, two riverboard casinos, and slot machines at five racetracks, doubling gambling positions in the state — is still on the table; hearings were held in Springfield earlier this month.

But the proposal faces a raft of political difficulties: casinos don’t like the slot machines at racetracks or the stepped-up regulation contained in the bill; downstate legislators aren’t enthusiastic about awarding a casino license to the scandal-plagued City of Chicago in perpetuity, for a fraction of the $800 million that a private entity would pay. Add to the mix the December indictment of Blagojevich’s top gambling advisor — for gambling-linked fraud.

Now the Task Force is questioning the premise of the Governor’s December compromise — that gambling expansion is “a better source of revenue” than taxes. Spokesperson Doug Dobmeyer notes that the quarter-percent income tax hike that’s been discussed as a source of capital funding would cost the average family $110 a year; he contrasts that with the $120 or so that the average casino patron loses in each visit. (In 2006 total gross receipts amounted to an average $118 loss per visit for 16 million casino patrons; last month it averaged $122 for 1.23 million visitors.)

“The bottom line” is that “a tax increase is cheaper than shelling out money to a casino,” said Dobmeyer, adding that it’s more cost-effective too, since the gambling industry doesn’t take a large cut of the revenue.

It also avoids the wide range of social costs associated with gambling.

Dobmeyer said Ald. Joe Moore is preparing to sponsor a citywide referendum asking voters if they support a land-based casino in Chicago, and the Task Force is also supporting Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn’s call for a statewide referendum on gambling expansion. Dobmeyer points to a recent Capitol Fax report on a survey showing 77 percent of state residents support a referendum on the issue.

HB 4194 “would make Illinois the second largest place in the country for gambling, after Vegas,” he said. “No one has discussed what that would mean….

“We want a referendum and a lot more discussion.”