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Illinois’ Sucker Bet Casinos
Illinois unfolding gambling strategyscattering an ever-increasing
number of casinos and slot machines around the statehas a big problem:
The losers at the slots and blackjack tables are almost all locals, an
approach that saps the states economy rather than expanding it.
Casinos in other states with large gambling industriesNevada, New
Jersey, even Indianadraw most of their customers from elsewhere, making
the business a net plus for the states economies.
Its not the local population that the (Las Vegas) casinos are
living off of, says Jane Pedreira, a gambling-market analyst at Lehman
Bros. in New York. Its the international population.
State legislators are considering adding four new casinos and 2,000
slot machines around the state, giving the Chicago area a total 26,000
gambling positions. That would make Chicago the third-largest gambling
market in the country, behind No. 2 Atlantic City, which has 43,000
The new gambling positions would be spread across casinos and
racetracks from Rockford to Country Club Hills, making it more
convenient for local residents to gamble. But it wouldnt create the
kind of concentrated casino district that makes Las Vegas and Atlantic
City destinations for gamblers from around the world.
Youre not turning Chicago into a destination market. What makes a
good destination market is that you can hit five casinos in a mile or 10
or 15 casinos in a mile, says Eric Hausler, a gambling industry analyst
at Susquehanna Financial Group in New York. If you had to drive from
Elgin to East Chicago (casinos), it would be a disaster.
Adding new casinos and slots would boost gambling in Illinois, but
wouldnt bring much new money into the state. Dollars bet in the new
Illinois casinos would otherwise have been spent in the states grocery
stores, restaurants and movie theaters.
Atlantic Citys 12 casinos, clustered within walking distance of each
other in the oceanside resort town, draw customers from a 200-mile
radius that includes New York, Pennsylvania, Dela-ware, Maryland and
Virginia. Las Vegas is an international destination for gamblers.
Indiana positions casinos along its borders to attract gamblers from
Each of the Chicago areas eight existing casinos, on the other hand,
draws from a 50-mile radius. The proposed new casinos arent likely to
have a longer reach.
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2004 Online Casino News Archive