News reports suggest that state lawmakers are considering an expansion of gambling–including a casino for Chicago. The state of Illinois has a serious revenue shortfall, thanks to out-of-control spending habits. Gambling will not alleviate this problem.
In order for the state to realize additional gambling revenue, the gambling industry must profit by creating thousands of losers. It is morally indefensible for the state to approve, license and promote an industry that thrives on the exploitation of the citizens it’s sworn to serve. Creating thousands of citizen losers to increase an ill-gotten revenue stream is terrible public policy.
It is also short-sighted. Professor John Kindt, of the University of Illinois, estimates that it will cost citizens $3 in social costs for every $1 that the state takes in on gambling taxes. Kindt also points out that legalized gambling is the leading cause of bankruptcy.
Gambling addictions, which increase dramatically with the creation of each new casino, would contribute to homeless problems, increases in crime, unemployment, suicide, domestic abuse, substance abuse and broken families.
Lawmakers must consider the bigger picture as they debate these proposals. I pray they understand that the costs of gambling far outweigh the perceived financial benefits.
David E. Smith
Illinois Family Institute