Last summer the state of Illinois legalized video gaming, which allowed video gaming machines to be placed in establishments with liquor licenses. The move is expected to generate in the neighborhood of $300 million, annually. The move was one of the mechanisms with which the state hoped to raise revenue towards its capital projects. Read more.
The law came with a provision to allow counties and communities to opt out if they did not want gaming. So now the state of Illinois is backing the gambling train and this time, it’s the government telling those communities and counties, “You either ride with us or collide with us”, in a nutshell. Senator Mike Jacobs wants the communities that opt out to pay for the state’s capital projects through a surcharge. How is this for a turn of events, the government taxing the people for not wanting gambling? The issue is basic to Sen. Jacobs, he believes if communities don’t want gambling, but want to enjoy the benefits of the capital project, they should put up, or shut up. To Jacobs it’s a matter of fairness. Fairness, there’s another interesting concept to be used by the state in reference to gambling.
It’s so puzzling how stances change from state to state. You wonder if Senator Jacobs approach could be implemented by other states, namely, California. California has been hearing several sides both for and against the argument to legalize and regulate online poker to boost state revenues and cut down the budget deficit. What if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took a page out of Senator Jacobs book. It might actually be scary.
He could show up to the hearing oiled up in fatigues, with hollow point bullets wrapped around his chest, a semi automatic weapon strapped to his back, that thick German accent from Predator kicking in… “There will be no debate, legalize poka”. After an icy Commando stare down to the Pechanga Band and any other opponents, the issue would be done deal, stamped sealed and approved no questions asked. “Now run, get to the choppa!” I’d love to see it. Too bad Arnold got soft ever since he put that suit on.
The alternatives for the communities that opt out of the gambling push in Illinois aren’t great, which means they may just have to fall in line. The other ways to raise capital include raising taxes on candy and hiking the liquor tax. I’ll stop right there, because already those two suggestions are unacceptable. Hiking up the tax on candy for children sounds unconstitutional to me. And hiking up the liquor tax, well, that’s just plain wrong. One could only hope the counties and communities of Illinois do the right thing, if not for the gambling industry, for the children, and their precious candy.