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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Illinois gambles its future

We've had at least 3 terms of governors who have opposed the expansion of gambling (2002, 2006, 2010 elections).
Yet, while there are 10,800 gambling positions currently in Illinois (meaning 10,800 people can simultaneously gamble) we are about ready to add an additional 45,000 video gambling terminals and add a total of 28,000 additional positions at new casinos. Plus, there's the endlessly-flogged state lottery.
Is this really about revenue? Or is it mostly about being nice to the gambling industry?  Consider this: State tax rates on slot machines would decline under this proposal.
I suppose I shouldn't complain about this. As a statistician, I don't see the point of games of chance like craps or roulette, since the bets are a negative sum game (i.e. the house always wins if you play long enough).  And I know I don't have enough skill to play poker in a casino. So, by not playing, I let other people contribute to state revenue. But there's a human cost to gambling, which is why it historically has been limited.  But in Illinois, we don't much care about that.

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