Barber Shop Show preview: Should Illinois expand gambling?

Barber Shop Show preview: Should Illinois expand gambling?

If you're waiting for new casinos to open up in the Prairie State, Governor Quinn has a message for you: "Don't hold your breath."

Even thought the Illinois general assembly passed a bill that would create five new casinos and allow slot machines at racetracks, it's not likely to be signed into law.

But advocates for the bill say it would create jobs, economic development and revenue at a time when people are unemployed and state budgets are tight.

This week on the Barber Shop Show, we're talking gambling. Would expanding gambling be the silver bullet for the economy that some legislators claim it would be?

State Rep. Lou Lang talked with WBEZ this week about his support of the gambling bill.

"The opportunity to put people to work is a very important one," said Lang. "This is just one other way to put people to work; one other way to create opportunities for people."

With unemployment at 8.7 percent and painful cuts ahead to Medicaid, it might seem like the perfect time for any measure that would create jobs and tax revenue.

But would new casinos actually do that?

Not according to Stop Predatory Gambling, a nonprofit started by Rockford resident Tom Grey to halt gambling expansion in the U.S.

They cite research that says casinos take advantage of the working poor, increase bankruptcy rates, and actually take away local jobs and don't increase revenue. A 2011 study in Contemporary Economic Policy found that casinos and greyhound racing tend to decrease state revenues.

What do you think of the gambling expansion bill? Are you waiting for a new casino in your neighborhood or city? Or are you hoping they'll stay out?

We'll also be talking about what happened this week in local news, and have an interview with a former baseball player in the Negro Leagues,  M.C. Johnson.

Leave us a comment and we'll read it live on air, or call in at 888-635-1112 to leave us your thoughts.

Tune in to the Barber Shop Show on Vocalo, 89.5 FM, at noon on Fridays, or catch the re-broadcast at noon on Saturday. As always, you can catch a podcast of the show every week on the following Tuesday.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

Photo credit: TaxBrackets.org

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