Rethinking Gambling Revenues in Illinois?

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The Illinois House of Representatives has voted to end the state's reliance on riverboat gambling as a revenue source. This would be a great thing if (1) the big thinkers in this deficit-ridden state had some ideas ready about how to pay for it, or if (2) they even really wanted this change to become law, but neither of these important hurdles seems to have been passed.

Press accounts indicate that actually, House Speaker Mike Madigan is fine with gambling-- he just doesn't think the current arrangement between the casinos and the state are giving the state their fair share of the profits. This could well be true, but there's a larger issue, as one anti-gambling advocate pointed out:
"I would suggest at this point that he's perhaps missing the point here," said Tom Grey, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. "The citizens believe the costs outweigh the benefits."

More and more lawmakers are getting on board the movement for a progressive Illinois tax shift that would cut property taxes and make the income and corporate taxes more progressive. It will be interesting to see if the House's latest stunt ends up making a real shift away from gambling part of the mix in 2006.

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