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New Chicago Casino Concerns Raised Following Reports of More Than 350,000 Problem Gamblers in Illinois

A recently held state-funded study raised some new concerns about the development of a Chicago casino after providing evidence that gambling has dramatically changed the lives of Illinois residents, families, and communities.

According to evidence brought by the new study, almost 4% of Illinois residents (which means more than 350,000 people across the state) suffer from some form of gambling addiction.

The study was presented to the group that is set to decide whether the $1.7-billion Chicago casino will finally get official approval. This is the local gambling regulatory body – the Illinois Gaming Board – which is practically the next major obstacle Bally’s has to overcome in order to get approval to open the planned major casino establishment in River West.

The Illinois Gaming Board is set to hold a meeting at the end of July but the Bally’s project will not be part of the agenda.

If the Bally’s plan is given the green light, the first place they are expected to start operation is the temporary casino location in River North. Previously, the Rhode Island gambling company has estimated that apart from establishing new jobs in the casino, hotels, restaurants, etc., the project would bring hundreds of millions in revenue for the city of Chicago. However, before this happens, the project needs to get approved by the competent authorities and regulatory bodies.

Illinois Gaming Board Has to Decide on the Fate of Permanent Chicago Casino

What will happen now is still unknown. The recently-released report provided the Illinois Gaming Board with some eye-opening details on gambling addiction rates across the state, and the problem seems to be significant.

As revealed by the report, Illinois problem gamblers spent an average of $16,750 on gambling annually, while 30% of them have a gambling-related debt of more than $50,000. About 10% of the gambling addicts in the state have either considered suicide or made a suicide attempt. More than half of Illinois problem gamblers revealed that their gambling habits resulted in child or family neglect.

The expansion of sports betting in the state over the last few years have been considered one of the main reasons why these numbers have been recently rising.

Researchers, however, have warned about the future of local communities. Rev. Dr. Myron McCoy from the First United Methodist Church noted that the supporters of gambling expansion were perfectly aware of the risks that are associated with it because they had seen the same trends in other US states, but preferred to turn a blind eye to the potential problems. He shared that everyone knew that the troublesome patterns were real and they have finally come to Illinois.

Whether seeing the problem gambling rates will make the Illinois Gaming Board reconsider a potential approval of the project that would end up establishing the state’s largest casino on the banks of the Chicago River. It also remains unknown whether the temporary casino in River North will see any progress in case the regulator decides not to give the nod to the Chicago casino project.

Unfortunately, the researchers do not expect much change in the trend of a further casino gambling expansion in the state as a result of Bally’s upcoming vote. Gambling has been a major contributor to the state budget, helping the authorities to fill in some budget holes, so reducing its scale would also reduce the contributions that are being made.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.