SPRINGFIELD - The controversial Senate bill that will raise the state income tax, create a new "business opportunity tax," another new tax on services will also double the number of gambling casinos in Illinois - including Chicago's struggling south suburbs.
It's not as if Chicago's south suburbs is missing out on the gambling windfall. Since 2012, residents in the south suburban townships of Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Thornton and Rich have racked up a grand total of $211 million in gambling losses attributed to over two thousand video gambling machines throughout the area.
The two cities that are the area's biggest losers - Oak Forest ($16 million) and Crestwood ($15 million) - back up next to each other along video gaming-saturated Cicero Avenue, according to a chart released by Churches in Action:
Friday, Churches in Action released an analysis of the proposed changes in SB 7 for the state's gambling policy:
- SB 7 legalizes a city-owned casino for Chicago with a perpetual license that cannot be revoked or suspended. No other city in the United States owns a casino.
- SB 7 lowers the tax rate on casino gambling. Currently casinos pay a graduated tax of 15 to 50 percent on Adjusted Gross Receipts. SB 7 lowers the tax to 10% and has separate categories for electronic gambling devices (EGD) and table games. Table games are taxed a maximum of 16% for adjusted gross receipts in excess of $70 million, and EGDs have a maximum of 50% in excess of $800 million. NOTE: Only Rivers Casino would qualify for the maximum tax on table games, and no casinos meets the maximum tax rate for slot machines.
- SB 7 rushes the approval process. The Illinois Gaming Board shall issue the 6 casino gambling licenses within 12 months after the date the license application is submitted. The Board shall determine within 120 days after receiving an application whether to grant an electronic gaming license to a racetrack. With the massive expansion and increased responsibilities and duties of the Gaming Board, this is irresponsible. The public expects strict regulation and enforcement of gambling laws. Organized crime is a possibility if the process is rushed. NOTE: Rivers Casino was fined $1.65 million in 2016 for hiring United Services Co. for security and cleaning work at the casino. United is run by Richard Simon, who has admitted business and personal ties to reputed mob figures.
- Gambling interests overestimate the amount of revenue generated. When the Video Gambling Act was passed in 2009, the estimate of State revenue was $288 - $534 Million per year. In 2016-4 years after the gambling machines were operational-the State received $277 million from 24,841 machines. Revenue projected in SB 7 could be much lower than expected, especially in communities with video gambling.
- Independent studies have found that 35 - 50 percent of the casino gambling revenues come from problem and pathological gamblers, according to "Why Casinos Matter". Doubling the number of casinos and increasing the number of gambling positions will make gambling even more accessible and lead to an increase in problem and pathological gambling. There are currently 12,383 people on the self-exclusion list at Illinois casinos. With a cost of $13,067 per pathological gambler per year, the cost to the State is over $161.8 million per year.
- Broken families, financial ruin, and crime will increase with the expansion of casino gambling. The costs to the state are at least $3 for every $1 of revenue for regulation, criminal justice, and social costs. These costs are not even considered when projecting the revenue for the State.