Will it go 'round in circles

January 28, 2014 

Isn't it interesting how so much of gambling revolves around loops: horses run around tracks, slot wheels whirl, the roulette wheel turns. The wheel of fortune spins and odds are you will lose.

So, too, with our state's gambling. Dollars circulate, but nothing is created by the swirl -- no goods or services are made.

A year after we started legal video gambling in the local bars and halls, the state's casinos point to the $270 million that could have been wagered with them. Before that, the horse tracks were crying about the casinos killing them and have been perennially seeking slot machines to save themselves.

One irony we enjoy is that our state lawmakers seem comfortable giving almost anyone in Illinois five gambling machines unless there are horses running around outside. For the horses, lawmakers don't even keep track of what they've approved: Fairmount Park's ability to let its horse races be simulcast is about to expire.

So the state's casinos have 12,000 spots for gamblers and the video gambling has another 12,100 and grows every month. The horse tracks limp along and there's the state lottery.

Still, it is not enough. The lawmakers are again looking at an expansion.

Will they ever get it? They just keep cutting the slices of the pie smaller. Nothing is created, and without creation there is no real value generated.

We spin our wheels and get stuck deeper in the mud.

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