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THE BRIEFING | Posted by Meredith Flynn

From Peoria to Murphysboro, from Hoffman Estates to Mt. Vernon, video gambling will arrive in communities across Illinois in the next few weeks. The Illinois General Assembly approved a bill to allow video gambling in 2009, but the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) hasn’t been prepared to enact the legislation – until now. The law allows video gaming terminals to be placed in bars, fraternal and veteran’s organizations, and truck stops.

Quincy is just one Illinois town considering allowing video gambling now that the IGA has moved forward with the bill. Quincy First Southern Pastor Tom Rains is working with fellow pastors to prevent it from being approved. “This type of gaming revenue does more harm than good,” he said. “There are too many innocent victims. Studies have shown it takes just one year to become addicted to video gambling, while it takes three and half years for all other forms of gambling.”

An estimated 250 cities and counties in Illinois have bans on video gambling, but that doesn’t mean those communities will remain free of video gambling. Recently in Springfield, city council members voted to overturn the city’s ban and approved video gambling within the city limits.

The state projects it will earn 30 percent of the money video gamblers spend at the machines from taxes on the terminals. That could amount to anywhere between $184 million and $342 million in funds, which are slated to be spent on road, bridge and school construction. Five percent of the tax will go to the city or county where the terminals are located. The IGB reports it has received 1,000 applications from businesses wanting to have terminals and has approved 70.

But at what cost to cities and taxpayers? According to research by Baylor Professor Earl L. Grinols and University of Georgia Professor David B. Mustard, communities where gambling is legal pay $13,067 each year in criminal justice, social services, regulatory and other costs per pathological gambler. They also found for every $1 in tax revenue a community receives from gambling, it cost taxpayers $3.

Reported by Lisa Sergent, contributing editor for the Illinois Baptist.

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