The brilliance of our state policy makers is never understated. Our most recent example is the decision to invade local communities with video poker machines at bars, truck stops, restaurants that serve alcohol and fraternal clubs.
The brilliance of our state policy makers is never understated.
Our most recent example is the decision to invade local communities with video poker machines at bars, truck stops, restaurants that serve alcohol and fraternal clubs.
A total of 45,000 pocketbook bandits will soon be ringing up profits for the state as it formulates a plan to pay for $31 billion in capital improvements.
Do we need to rebuild our highways, bridges and failing infrastructure? Of course. Illinois hasn’t had a capital plan for a decade and many of our major thoroughfares are literally crumbling. Failing to maintain or repair our roads and bridges is an obvious threat to public safety.
Is the formula that state lawmakers approved to fund that plan a good idea?
Well, this is Illinois. It ranks near the top for its distinguished list of government corruption scandals, mob connections and imprisoned politicians. There are stories of shoeboxes full of public money pocketed by the Secretary of State in the 1960s, and driver’s licenses being sold by the governor’s office earlier this decade. Heck, our most recently deposed public executive is about to take the stand for trying to sell the Senate seat formerly held by our president.
Add to this history a new opportunity created by the unregulated expansion of gambling.
Legislation adopted by our best and brightest in Springfield made sure it would be difficult for local communities to avoid placing video poker machines in their own backyard. The language of the state gambling bill requires the local governing body to enact an ordinance that prohibits video poker machines — a decision that would raise havoc from business owners trying to compete with neighboring communities where no such restriction has been adopted. Without local legislation, business owners are free to license the video game bandits throughout the state, and begin collecting revenue for our roadways.
For added enticement, the state will share five percent of the local gamblers’ losses with the community where the machines are located.
Knowing Illinois, we’ll soon see headlines that the capital construction contracts were crooked, the proceeds from the gambling machines are poorly accounted for and generating less revenue than expected, and the social cost of easing the opportunity to gamble is astronomical.
Well, at least the road to Hell will be a smooth ride.