Saturday, September 26, 2015

Does video poker, slots have potential to become the “blob” that ate Illinois?

I felt a bit of relief this week when I read the reports that the Illinois Gaming Board rejected the desire of officials in suburban Hometown to establish a strip mall filled entirely with businesses that have video poker machines on the premises.

Gamble, or eat?
We’re talking about the laws from a couple of years ago that permitted businesses such as restaurants and taverns to install up to five gambling machines so as to help bring in more business.

PERSONALLY, I THINK they’re gaudy. I know of a half-dozen such businesses within a half-mile of where I live – including one Mexican restaurant just one block from home.

It’s not a place I regularly ate at (I know of other places where I can get better Mexican edibles). But the sight of those machines and the flashy lights and noises they emanate can make eating there a more tacky experience.

Although I am aware there are people who feel exactly the opposite – to the point that they go to that restaurant and other businesses SPECIFICALLY SO THEY CAN spend some time playing the slots.

They want to gamble, and like the idea of not having to make the trip to a casino.

WHAT INSPIRED THE idea of a gambling strip mall was the idea of expanding on the idea of legal gambling taking place within walking distance of home – at least if you happen to live in Hometown or its neighboring suburb of Oak Lawn.

If anything, the storefronts in this strip mall would have been less concerned with having to maintain a restaurant or a tavern because it turns out the kind of people who go to gamble at these places aren’t the least bit interested.

They view the primary business as being a distraction; something that would cost them money they’d rather stick into the slot machine out of a deluded belief they’ll walk away with more money than they entered with.
More likely, those people will leave with less. Possibly nothing at all. Which is a concept I just don’t understand. I work too hard for what little cash I have to lose it to the appeal of spinning wheels, digital symbols or flashing lights.

IT WAS ENCOURAGING to see the Gaming Board take the attitude that such a strip mall amounts to a casino – which have their own sets of regulations that must be followed to be licensed by the state of Illinois.

Honestly, I think we have plenty of those riverboat casinos scattered around the state for those people who absolutely feel compelled to put their money at risk in exchange for a cheap thrill.

And I think those establishments made a serious concession when they pretty much gave up on the requirement that the gambling take place on board boats that sailed around bodies of navigable water – because the same people who just want to play a slot machine without the distraction of a restaurant also didn’t want to have to take a gambling “cruise” (not even one that was just a lap around a river of sorts).

Now I know that some people claim these places aren’t casino-related. They’re just slot machines – none of the other, more hard-core games of chance are being played. No black jack. No roulette wheels.

JUST A CHANCE to pull a rod or push a button and hope you can get something other than three lemons – followed by the sight and sound of flashing lights and sirens and a flow of coins spewing from the machine.

Sounds kind of lame to me. Particularly since I remember one time I went to that previously-mentioned Mexican restaurant to place a takeout order and had the cashier suggest I play some slot machines to try to win the money to pay for the meal.

Why do I think the end result would have been losing $50 or so, in addition to the $20 I spent on food?

And that going to a gambling-oriented strip mall would merely change that to a $70 loss from gambing, and nothing left to grab a bite to eat later on?


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