The bad bet: How Illinois bet on video gambling and lost

Chicago Sun-Times | 5/21/2009 | Contributor
moemajor (Posted by) Level 3
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With the last streaks of daylight fading on a mild October evening, the cars pulled up in waves at Piero’s Italian Cuisine, an old-school Las Vegas hotspot known for its osso buco.

Cadillacs with tinted windows. Taxis and rideshares. A black Bentley limousine and a white minivan. Men and women emerged, most casually dressed, there for the first of a series of posh, private events hosted by the video gambling industry during the 2018 Global Gaming Expo, North America’s largest gambling trade show. They included gambling executives, lobbyists — and about a dozen Illinois lawmakers.

Politicians - Las - Vegas - Developments - Gambling

The politicians had flown to Las Vegas to learn about the latest developments in the gambling industry and to discuss its expansion in Illinois, including proposals that would license six new casinos in the state, legalize sports betting and increase the wagering limit on video gambling machines. The plans, lawmakers have said, would brighten the state’s gloomy financial picture without having to raise taxes or cut spending.

It wouldn’t be the first time Illinois has placed a big bet on gambling. Nearly a decade ago, state lawmakers legalized video gambling. Today, more than 30,000 video slot and poker machines operate outside casinos here, more than any other state in the country.

Machines - Legislators - Billions - Dollars - Revenue

The machines, which legislators said would generate billions of dollars in revenue for the cash-strapped state, are spread over 6,800 establishments, dotting highways and towns from Winnebago County in the north to Alexander County in the south. Step outside the borders of Chicago, where video gambling remains illegal, and you will see feather flags, billboards and neon signs advertising video slots and poker in bars and restaurants, truck stops and storefront gambling parlors.

Illinois now has more locations to legally place a bet than Nevada.

Rise - Video - Gambling

But the meteoric rise of video gambling has proven to be little more than a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Chicago Sun-Times
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