Monday, June 10, 2019

Where, oh where, will casinos go?

It seems we’re destined to get several more gambling casinos erected in both Chicago and the nearby suburbs.
Will this become political battleground in war of casinos?
We’ll be able to take our pick of just where we want to go on the occasion we feel the need to throw some money away on the off-chance we can hit a big jackpot and become instantly wealthy.

BUT THERE’S ONE factor that has been popping up in my brain – the way in which the siting of a city-based casino will also impact the way the so-called south suburban casino will be located.

There are several municipalities scattered throughout southern Cook County, all of which are insistent that they’re the only local place to erect one of those tacky, flashy, gaudy structures that promise instant wealth (and downplay the chances you’ll walk out of there flat-broke, instead).

It seems there is one line of thought that a south suburban casino ought to be placed in a community fairly close to the Illinois/Indiana border. Almost as though its existence would stand in the way of people who otherwise would try to fulfill their gambling “jones” by venturing to those casinos in Indiana (Hammond, East Chicago and Gary, to be specific).

Why cross over State Line Road to the land of Hoosiers if you can gamble closer to home?

SO IF THE notion of a casino being located near the Lincoln Highway right by Interstate 394 (just barely in suburban Ford Heights) becomes reality, does that impact the idea of a city-based casino by making it more likely that such a facility would be located in the heart of downtown – to take advantage of the nearby presence of out-of-town tourists?

Or does the concept of putting a city-based gambling complex down around the 10th Ward (as far southeast as one can go and still be in Chicago proper) become the big boost to the people who think a suburban casino ought to be at a site on Interstate 80 at Halsted Street?

I should make one confession. I have a step-mother who enjoys the environs of a casino (playing the slot machines is her big kick), and that latter location would put a casino about a five-minute drive away from her home.

It intrigues me the way these varying proposals for more gambling are going to impact each other – even though the political people tend to act as though the city-based and suburban-based casinos will exist in differing worlds.

ALMOST AS THOUGH they’re Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Rather than the idea of an East Side neighborhood in Chicago casino being only about a 15-minute drive down the Bishop Ford Freeway to the would-be Ford Heights site.

Which may also suffer from the general reputation that suburb suffers in the public eye. I already can envision the notion that many people will have in thinking a Ford Heights site is too decrepit to want to go to.

Or it could also turn out to be like when Ford Motor Co. decided to build an auto plant in that area, and actually picked a site right on the municipality’s border. What was then East Chicago Heights, Ill., went so far as to rename their town to try to make Ford Motor think they were special.

ONLY TO HAVE the company choose to annex into Chicago Heights proper. Would a casino feel the need to claim they’re in another town (Sauk Village or Lynwood?) to escape the perceived stigma?

For all those people who already are calculating how much of a cut their municipality will receive in tax revenues from a proposed casino, we ought to consider that just because the Illinois General Assembly has given authority to allowing a few more casinos does not mean anybody’s ready to open for business anytime soon.

If anything, the real political infighting will now begin – with village vs. village being pitted against each other to argue the merits of who’s most worthy of having a casino with over-priced buffet where one can gorge themselves in between black jack hands operating within their boundaries.

Because let’s not forget – the operating premises of many casinos is that they want to keep customers inside at all times. They certainly don’t want them spending money at any surrounding businesses in the community – spending that would generate true economic development.


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