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The Negative Impacts of Video Gambling in Decatur

Over $113 million was put into 416 video gaming terminals in 87 establishments throughout the City of Decatur in 2018.  Overall, individuals that played lost over $29 million.  The many negative impacts of gambling are well documented and may intensify societal problems such as addiction, bankruptcy and crime.  Slots are popular among older Americans and particularly older women.  Given that the median household income in Decatur is less than both state and national averages, addictive gambling may cause seniors with fixed incomes to be at risk. 

People that participate in video gambling in Decatur are losing more money every year.  In 2014, citizens lost $11.7 million, 2015 - $17.9 million, 2016 - $22.9 million, 2017 – $26.0 million, and 2018 - $29.2 million.  Unlike buying a product from a local Decatur merchant, much of the money lost on video gambling leaves our community as many of the vendors of video gaming terminals and owners of the establishments are not local.  

Since its introduction, video gambling has not improved the quality of life in Decatur nor does it enhance the attractiveness of our city and its neighborhoods.  Our main thoroughfares contain large signs and flags in front of establishments welcoming guests to play slots while collectively diminishing one’s impression of our city.  

If we are going to have video gambling, more gambling losses that our citizens incur should be reinvested in the neighborhoods the money is being lost from. 
As one example, further increasing video gaming terminal fees will provide the city with a consistent and predictable source of funds for neighborhood revitalization initiatives such as the removal or rehabilitation of delipidated homes and abandoned buildings.  For a city whose population has declined over 5% since 2010, revitalizing our neighborhoods must be a top priority, and unlike video gambling, will improve our quality of life.

Horn for Decatur
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