Friday, January 18, 2019

Illinois' Lost Bet on Gambling Machines

ProPublica has been investigating how the state of Illinois is having to pay out for its bet on legalizing video gambling. Around ten years ago the state changed the law to allow video slot and poker machines. The state now has more of these machines outside casinos than any other state.

Illinois' lawmakers assumed that the legalization of video gaming would raise huge amounts of tax dollars for the state. Unfortunately the popularity of relatively low-tax video gambling machines has led to a large fall in higher-tax casino gambling. The result is that despite the rise of gambling in Illinois, and the high social costs related to that rise, the state has raised nowhere near as much money from video gambling as the lawmakers predicted when they changed the law on their use.

In How Illinois Bet on Video Gambling and Lost ProPublica has mapped out the monthly terminal income by location. The map shows data from 2012 to November 2018. Unfortunately the 3D markers used on the map make it a little difficult to determine the data at individual locations. The map is therefore not particularly useful for a detailed investigation of gambling use in different locations. However the map does provide a general picture of how the use of these machines has spread across the state since 2012. The map dashboard also provides details of how gambling income for the state has fallen well below the state revenue projected by lawmakers.

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