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Our view: Be cautious with video gambling here

Published: Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

The only way the video gaming phenomenon will be reversed in Illinois is if the General Assembly votes to repeal it.

The chances of that happening appear slim to none, at least in the short term.

Three years after legislators approved video gaming machines in bars and restaurants, the state finally got around to activating the first ones on Tuesday.

Soon, these machines could be operational at locations in Sycamore, DeKalb, and Genoa, along with many other municipalities around Illinois, as the state is processing license applications from about 2,000 locations.

The city councils in each of the three local communities have OK’d video gaming within their municipal boundaries.

Approved by state lawmakers in 2009, video gaming is designed to fund road, bridge and infrastructure work around the state. Machines will allow maximum bets of $2, with maximum payouts of $500.

After winnings are paid, the state gets 25 percent of the take. Cities get 5 percent. The remaining 70 percent will be split between owners of the local establishments and owners of the gaming machines.

Although state and municipal governments will tap into a new revenue stream, the social costs can be tremendous. Gambling is addictive. Plenty of local residents are going to lose money, some who can’t afford to do so. Because of the nature of video gambling and its proximity to people’s homes, it is among the worst kinds.

We urge residents to be wise with their money. Please don’t bet more than you can afford to lose, and never get caught up in chasing losses. Remember that although the games might be entertaining, they’re ultimately designed to take your money.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, seek help. Confidential help is available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-GAMBLER.

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