Industry Observers Question Illinois Expanded Gambling

Industry Observers Question Illinois Expanded Gambling

9/11/2011

 

A gambling bill headed for the desk of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is being hounded by questions regarding regulation and on how much these new casinos could generate for state coffers.

However, casino industry observers also are asking if whether or not the gambling market will be clogged with the establishment of five new riverboats, slot machines at the state’s airports and mini-casinos at Chicago’s five horse racing tracks. A volatile economy, bankruptcies of casinos and increased competition from nearby states are raising distress signals for the industry across the country.

The Illinois bill includes the first city-owned casino. Situated in Chicago, it will be supervised by a board chosen by the city mayor and approved by the state’s Gaming Board. Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, is reportedly trying to increase the pressure on Quinn to sign the measure. An infrastructure projects wish list has already been released by the mayor that he hopes to pay for with profits earned from the casino.

According to the American Gaming Association, the Chicago-Northwest Indiana market is ranked number 3 in the country in top casino earnings, after Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Industry analysts observed that every state except for Hawaii and Utah has some form of legal gambling, raising the issue of whether further expansion is still profitable.

Nevertheless, supporters say that the appetite for gambling continues to be healthy. They cited the July opening of the newest casino in the state, Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, as proof of this. Traffic on the Tri-State Tollway is jammed, the parking lot of the casino reached its peak capacity and patrons patiently waited in long lines just to get inside.

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com