Decatur residents lost $46.2 million to video gambling in the last 12 months
In Decatur, between Sept. 2021 – Aug. 2022, $180.7 million was gambled, and citizens lost $46.2 million at 95 establishments hosting 547 machines. With an estimated 2021 population of 69,646, the city has a per capita gambling loss of $663 per resident.
There is little if any evidence that the gambling industry is a net benefit to our city and its citizens, and the negative impacts of gambling include crime, bankruptcy, and addiction. Given that Decatur is one of the poorest cities in Illinois, it reasonable to assume that a large amount of the gambling revenue is from poorer individuals that may live in blighted neighborhoods, and it is going to large companies and businesses based outside of Decatur.
I want to thank organizations such as Heritage Behavioral Health Center that offer programs to address gambling addiction in our city. Last week, Heritage sponsored a community event to learn more about problem gambling and the resources available to help. To get help, visit www.heritagenet.org or call The Problem Gambling Hotline at 1-800-Gambler.
The tax revenue the city receives from video gambling is unlikely to make up for the societal costs of gambling, and the Decatur City Council has yet to take the action necessary to reverse the significant negative impacts of gambling in this city. Such actions could include limiting the number of video gambling licenses that can be issued. Instead, the number of gambling establishments in our city increased 10% from 86 from Sept. 2020 – Aug. 2021 to 95 from Sept. 2021 – August 2022.