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State may look at spread of video gambling

November 28, 2018

Video poker machines are more prevalent and profitable than ever before, according to a new state report.

That has some lawmakers and local leaders looking to do something about them. The video gambling report comes as lawmakers consider the largest expansion of brick-and-mortar gambling facilities in the state in years.

In 2013, the first year Illinois lawmakers allowed for video gaming, almost 8,000 machines did $121 million in business. Just five years later, almost 30,000 machines did $1.4 billion in business. That’s enough gambling machines to fill 24 full-sized casinos.

Video gambling revenues have increased 75 percent in the past three years alone, according to the report “Wagering in Illinois” from the state’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

“Drive around any community, and we see the signs, we know that these places are popping up in strip malls all over the state because people are using them,” said state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington. “And now there is a report that says exactly that; there are a lot of dollars coming from them.”

Barickman, who represents Ford, Iroquois and Livingston counties, said there are a lot of state and local leaders who want to do something about it.

“I’m hearing from many constituents, I’m hearing from mayors and others who are saying these things are all over the place,” Barickman said. “And while on the one hand, there is certainly an argument in favor of the notion that if people want to spend their money and make those choices, then have at it. On the other hand, there is a burden with having those facilities on every street corner.”

Barickman hasn’t said what lawmakers should do.

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