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Smoking Ban Blamed For Record Gambling Revenue Decline In Illinois

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Lawmakers in the state of Illinois are working on expanding the current casino gambling industry. This week, a proposal was introduced that would bring four new casinos and slots at race tracks to the state.

While some lawmakers are looking to the future, others are pointing to the past. Specifically, a smoking ban that was put in place almost three years is being blamed for the continual decline in gaming revenue. For the past fiscal year, gambling revenue was lower than it has been in a decade.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability asserts that gambling revenue was just over $1 billion in the last fiscal year. That figure represents an almost five percent drop from the same period the previous year. The revenue being the lowest in ten years has some people believing more may not be good.

"It seems clear from the figures that Illinois residents have either grown tired of gambling, or they do not have the money to gamble given the current economic conditions," said Mark Feller. "Either way, it does not seem like a good time to consider expanding gambling further and saturating the market."

Those that are in favor of the expansion, however, believe that expansion could help increase gambling revenue at existing gambling establishments. The pro-gambling expansion members point to the racing industry, which has been devastated by the economy. Slot machines at the tracks could help invigorate racing enthusiasts.

The American Lung Association has disputed the notion that the smoking ban has hurt revenue figures at the casinos. Instead, the ALA points to the economic recession as the main reason for the revenue decline. In many states, casinos that still allow smoking have seen similar revenue declines in recent years as the drop being experienced in Illinois.

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