Carbondale Reporter

Carbondale Reporter

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Jackson County Republican chairman fears impact of expanded gambling

Local Government

By Glenn Minnis | Aug 21, 2019

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in January | twitter.com/jbpritzker

Jackson County Republican Chairman Chris Grissom has had enough of all the gambling expansion across much of Illinois.

“They’re dealing with a really vulnerable population,” he told the Carbondale Reporter. “I've got a friend, developmentally disabled, and she spends her entire paycheck every two weeks on slots. Overall, it does create more problems. The more opportunity anyone has to get caught up in that cycle isn’t good. I think we’re already to the point where we’re reaching the point of oversaturation.”

But the additions keep on coming, with the owners of Fairmount Park being among the latest to join the parade by announcing they plan to add slot machines, casino table games and sports betting as part of their estimated $50 million expansion plan. Racetrack owners recently received the stamp of approval for converting Fairmount into a “racino” from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Fairmount president Brian Zander said the expansion effort stands to “save the place,” but Grissom wondered at what cost to thr stgate and its quality of life.

“The house always wins, maybe with the exception of what’s going to go in Chicago where with that new study they levied so much in taxes it looks like a nonstarter for a company to come and build a casino,” he said. “There’s a limited amount of dollars statewise to be spent on recreational gambling. Now, it seems like anyone with a storefront can put in a slot machine. I don’t think this will necessarily mean more tax revenue for the state.”

Pritzker and supporters od expansion say that by more than doubling the number of casinos across the state, they expect to reap a windfall for Springfield.

Grissom said more money could ultimately mean just more problems.

“We’re really at the point of oversaturation,” he said. “Enough is enough.”

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