Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Who benefits from casino locations?

Chicago is finally going to be able to have a casino operating within the city limits, yet that doesn’t mean the politically partisan infighting is anywhere near to being complete.
Where, oh where, in Chicago will this become a reality?
Because Chicago is a big city. Now we get to fight about just where it ought to be located.

JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY is prepared to make an argument about how their neighborhood is the choice location that ought to provide Chicago with the potential economic benefits that a casino can create.

Of course, those arguments are going to be countered with quarrels about how putting a casino in somebody else’s neighborhood is a sure-fire way to ensure that a casino would fail to produce any benefits.

After all, nobody wants to go there!

We’re going to be hearing a lot of these arguments in coming months. Because while people will talk about city-wide benefits from gambling and a casino, they’re going to want to have the perks coming from their own neighborhood. Chicagoans aren’t really united enough to work together for our collective betterment.

WE’D JUST AS soon see each other get screwed over, if it means we can be the ones who come out on top.

That’s why I wonder if the debate over locating a casino will be as long and drawn-out as the fight has been over whether to let Chicago have a casino at all.

There are those who always argued the whole point of casinos was to provide economic benefits to isolated communities that can’t attract any other kind of economic development projects.

They’re the ones who took their opposition to a Chicago casino all the way down to last week’s Legislative vote that permitted the city to have gambling somewhere within their limits.

IT’S INTERESTING TO see Gov. J.B. Pritzker argue against putting a casino anywhere near downtown or the McCormick Place convention center. He said this week he wants a Chicago casino put out in one of the isolated neighborhoods that otherwise wouldn’t have any kind of attraction to draw people within their boundaries.

In short, he’s following the line of logic that Illinois originally had back when it placed casinos in places like East St. Louis or Metropolis.

Although there are other people who think that placing a casino downtown or near the convention centers is the way to ensure that large numbers of Chicago tourists have easy access to the place. Why place a casino at an isolated location where it would be difficult for anybody except for those who already live nearby to attend?

It’s the argument I’ve heard about developing a casino at a South Side location, particularly if we’re talking about the far Southeast Side 10th Ward.

WHO’D MAKE THE trip to the East Side neighborhood if they weren’t already there. Although there are others who argue that the neighborhood’s proximity to the Illinois-Indiana border and the casinos that have cropped up in Hammond, East Chicago and Gary, Ind., would mean we’d be able to steal away business from Indiana.

In short, get people to quit venturing across the state line when they feel the urge to gamble. Stay in Illinois, and keep your losses here.

Of course, consider that other casinos would be permitted in the nearby south suburbs, Waukegan, Rockford, Danville and Williamson County in Southern Illinois. We’re bound to wind up putting casinos just about everywhere – making it all to easy for people to blow their money on games of chance.

Which could result in the notion of true economic development coming about from drawing real businesses to one’s community – instead of a chance at a job parking cars at the casino or keeping the casino’s buffet well-stocked. Because those are the kind of jobs most likely to be made available from a casino construction somewhere.


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